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Saturday 10 December 2016

Bridge is no longer special for Reds boss Mourinho

Ex-Blues hero Jose insists Chelsea's patch no longer a happy hunting ground

Mourinho celebrates Manchester United’s win over Fenerbahce last Thursday
Mourinho celebrates Manchester United’s win over Fenerbahce last Thursday
Jose Mourinho during a defeat to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge last October, towards the end of his second stint as Chelsea manager

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho accepts Stamford Bridge is no longer a lucky ground for him as he prepares to return to Chelsea tomorrow.

Mourinho's side did not lose a single home Premier League game during his first spell as Blues manager, from the summer of 2004 to September 2007.

When his next club Inter Milan faced Chelsea in the Champions League last 16 in 2010, the Portuguese said: "I know normally Mourinho is lucky at Stamford Bridge."

He proved to be right, with the Italian side winning 1-0 in London to complete a 3-1 aggregate victory en route to winning the competition.

Mourinho returned to Chelsea in the summer of 2013 and had still only lost once in the league at home up to the start of last season. However, the record fell apart in a desperately poor start to the 2015-16 season. The Blues lost four home games and Mourinho left the club on December 17.

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Tomorrow's league contest will be Mourinho's first in charge of another team at Stamford Bridge since making that exit at the end of last year.

Asked about his "lucky" comment, the 53-year-old said: "When I played there with Inter, before that, I never lost a match at Stamford Bridge because I had that home record.

"Now I have lost a few matches at the Bridge, so I cannot use the same words."

Mourinho, who took over at United in May, added: "I knew that, working in England and staying in the Premier League, sooner or later, I had to play against Chelsea and I had to go to Stamford Bridge.

"The computer has decided that is to be now. And here we go."

United are currently seventh in the Premier League table with 14 points from eight games, two points fewer than fifth-placed Chelsea, who also appointed a new boss over the summer in Antonio Conte.

United made a good start to the 2016-17 season but their momentum was halted by three straight defeats in all competitions last month. Their form has picked up again with the two results so far of a hectic week - a 0-0 Premier League draw at Liverpool on Monday and Thursday's 4-1 home Europa League win over Fenerbahce - extending their unbeaten run to six matches.

Mourinho made seven changes to his first XI against the Turkish side but United surged into a 4-0 lead thanks to penalties from Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial and then fine strikes from Pogba and Jesse Lingard, before Robin van Persie's late consolation in reply against his old club.

Lingard was one of those to come into the side and responded well, also teeing up Pogba's second goal before scoring his own.

The 23-year-old England winger is keen to build on those efforts and feels there is the confidence now "to go on and win every game" in the United camp ahead of Sunday's match - a fixture he scored another excellent goal in last term.

"I enjoyed it last time when I was there and it was nice to be on the scoresheet," Lingard said. "We drew (1-1) though so hopefully we can get the win this time.

"Goals and assists are especially key for me this season and I was able to get one of each (against Fenerbahce) so I need to kick on now.

"I think our confidence is very high now. We know it's going to be a tough game against Chelsea but we are mentally prepared for that. We have the confidence now to go on and win every game."

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