Jose's horrific homecoming
United's humiliation underlines Mourinho's mess
(Pedro Rodriguez 1, Gary Cahill 21, Eden Hazard 62, N'Golo Kante 70)
MAN UNITED 0
The nightmare at Stamford Bridge will not be forgotten in a hurry.
Chelsea's stunning 4-0 victory over Manchester United this morning (Singapore time) underlined a startling tale of two managers.
On the touchline, Antonio Conte danced around like an X-Factor contestant, cheering, encouraging and overseeing another tactical masterclass.
He could be a contender this season. He could be somebody in the English Premier League. He could be the manager that Jose Mourinho used to be.
Standing beside Conte, the Portuguese looked a lost lion in winter, a spent force still unsure of what is expected of a United manager or why he's even there.
He had no answers, no solutions or even alternatives.
It's no longer clear if he's even sure what the questions are.
Mourinho, the black rings darkening and deepening beneath his eyes, could only look on in disbelief. He used to have so much fun at Stamford Bridge.
But heaven knows he's miserable now - a silent, sullen figure facing a long season of torment.
The pre-season target was the title.
Based on another wretched performance, the second in the week, a top-four finish requires a minor miracle.
United required less than a minute to highlight the kind of lacklustre, tedious rabble that the storied club are becoming.
From the halfway line, Marcos Alonso launched a speculative ball towards United's back four. Chris Smalling left it for Daley Blind. Blind left it for David de Gea and the goalkeeper raced out of his box and missed everything.
Pedro Rodriguez gleefully raced around de Gea and slammed home with his left foot. The clock read 30 seconds. Chelsea had conjured the fastest goal of the EPL season.
The hosts' frenetic counter-attacking and the visitors' shambolic defending ensured the second goal was no surprise. It was dumb and dumber in the United penalty box once more.
A corner in the 21st minute was flicked on by Antonio Valencia - yes, the United fullback nodded the ball across his own area - and the ball struck the hapless Ander Herrera and bounced towards Gary Cahill.
He shaped up to shoot. Smalling shaped up for a second snooze and the Chelsea skipper lashed the ball into the net.
But Mourinho must be judged equally culpable. Tactically, Conte took him to the cleaners, leaving him soaked and rinsed.
Mourinho's decision to drop the lightweight Herrera in front of the back four gave Chelsea too much space.
Out wide, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard spent more time retreating, chasing the outstanding pair Alonso and Victor Moses, than they did in their opponents' half.
And Paul Pogba was practically anonymous. He began as a No. 10 and drifted further backwards, often at jogging pace. The Frenchman's ponderous, negligible impact made United's build-up play painfully slow.
Mourinho hauled off the ineffective Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata was sent on as the formation was tweaked to a 4-4-2, with Rashford pushed up to join the isolated Ibrahimovic.
The change proved an exercise in futility when a reborn Belgian popped up to twist the knife.
In the final days of their Chelsea relationship, Eden Hazard and Mourinho rarely saw eye to eye. This morning, the Portuguese coach saw a blue blur dashing past his dozy defence.
In the 62nd minute, Hazard slipped the ball inside to N'Golo Kante, who squared quickly to Nemanja Matic, who in turn found Hazard in the box. The impish artist cut inside Smalling and directed his strike into the far corner.
Even Kante got in on the act, finishing off a delightful solo goal, his first for the Blues, in the 70th minute.
The goals were as marvellous as they were a collective mission statement. Conte's exuberant Blues are coming. The title is no longer a pipe dream, but shimmering brightly, tantalisingly, on the horizon.
As for Mourinho, his homecoming turned into the Rocky Horror Show.
And it's only going to get worse.
The Stamford Bridge party proved that he hasn't joined a Theatre of Dreams. He has left one behind.
United fans suffer at TNP sports bar
TNP PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge yesterday for the first time since becoming Manchester United manager and it was not a happy homecoming for the self-styled "Special One".
Dominating the clash from start to finish, Chelsea handed their former boss a 4-0 hammering, which was enough to move them one point off the top of the table.
A majority of the fans gathered at The New Paper Sports Bar (below) at Shanghai Dolly for Eleven Sports Network's live screening of the match were United supporters and they could only look on in horror, from the moment the Blues took the lead after only 30 seconds, up till the final moments.
Darren Ng was left shaking his head when asked about what he felt had gone wrong for his team.
"The defence was just horrible," said the 35-year-old, who works in the construction industry.
"I don't think it was a case of Chelsea being that much better.
"In the second half, we actually had more of the possession but we just couldn't create enough chances, while Chelsea took theirs."
There was also more woe for United's big-name summer signings Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as both were hardly inspirational, although Ng called for patience.
"I think they need a bit of time," he said.
"Eventually, I believe they will come good."
Interestingly enough, there was also an Arsenal fan in the crowd.
Wilson Ngoh, 41, was accompanying a friend who was too distraught to comment on United's display, and spoke on his behalf.
Echoing the consensus of the fans there, he said: "The defending was just shocking.
"The United players were just not up to standard, while you could see a lot of the Chelsea players were really fired up to prove something to Mourinho.
When asked about his own team's title chances, Ngoh, who is self-employed, refused to look too far ahead despite Arsenal's fine start to the season.
"It looks very even among the title challengers, so it's too early to tell," he insisted.
"We'll have to wait till after Christmas to know more."