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View from the enemy: On going full Mourinho; beefing with fans, media; and having greater expectations than Spurs

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Manchester United v SL Benfica - UEFA Champions League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

It’s shaping up to be a most super of Super Sundays this weekend, with the showdown at Stamford Bridge sending us into the next two weeks of international break boredom. Whether that will be scary boredom or happy boredom will largely depend on the outcome of the José Mourinho derby, which Chelsea won 4-0 last season. Chances are, this one won’t be so lopsided.

Ahead of this must-win game for Chelsea, I spoke with Manchester United blogger and man of great hair and great conversation, Brent Maximin. Well okay, it was like five questions. Be sure to check out the companion piece over on The Busby Babe where we talk Matić, Morata, and CRISIS.


WAGNH: Mourinho sold the world on last season being a success ("three" trophies!); surely, not even he can pull off that delusion again. So what are the minimum expectations this season for The Special One?

tBB: Treble* winners, baby! Yeah, that was very silly. But he wanted to build up his players, so I was willing to turn a partial blind eye to how cringe-worthy that was. It wasn't a runaway success of a first season (*glares enviously*), but it was good enough, and there were solid signs that Mourinho at least knew what he was doing. This season, it's league title or bust for me. The squad is better and more balanced than it has been in several years, and Mourinho has had a year to implement his methods. If Manchester City keep up their current annoyingly impressive form, it'll be no shame to finish second, but even then there'll need to be a cup or two to soften the blow. I don't feel that United are entitled to be champions just because it's been a few years, but Mourinho has gotten the players he wanted and he's had time. Sixth place was something of a false position given that the league had already been put on the back burner at the business end of last season. "Progress noted" is not enough. We're not Spurs, for god's sake.

WAGNH: United have conceded goals in just two Premier League games this season, and yet ended up dropping points in both of them. Is this a weird coincidence or a side-effect of Mourinho's tactics that have been made to look good by a glut of late-game goals?

tBB: A bit of both. Mourinho's tactics haven't changed a whole lot from before the last international break to after it, but the absence of Paul Pogba has started to tell. Marouane Fellaini has been in the form of his life, and we miss him as well (stop your laughing, I'm being serious). Ander Herrera's form has seriously dropped off this year, and the difference in creativity and power in midfield is noticeable, and it has knock-on effects. The attacking players are not getting the same service, and the front line no longer looks as irresistible as it did earlier this year. Injuries in central defense has also led Mourinho to compensate somewhat by being more trigger happy with the FULL MOURINHO lever.

WAGNH: Can anybody stop Manchester City this time around? And just how much does that annoy Mourinho, to have Guardiola be his noisy neighbor blasting the Despacito at all hours?

tBB: Just wait til the blood doping scandal breaks. We'll be right back in it! They look excellent, the bastards. But it's a long season, and injuries and cup commitments catch up with everyone eventually. I actually think Mourinho is less focused on Guardiola for now (thankfully), because he has something to prove himself. The way things ended at Madrid and Chelsea chastened him, so he's out to prove that he's still got it. Then he can start going full out with the embarrassing antics. Can't wait!

WAGNH: There's no day without controversy when Mourinho's your head coach, so who's his beef with now? Fans? Media? Is this just another one of his smokescreens so that all attention's on him rather than his team (as evidenced by all my questions being about him here, too)?

tBB: Mourinho's media beef is everlasting. The team isn't bad enough to need a smokescreen at the moment, so I assume he's just trying to kickstart the atmosphere at Old Trafford. Mourinho's preferred method is problem-solving has always been conflict: add fuel to whatever low-level fire may or may not be burning, then see what happens. It's weird that he's intent on picking fights, but he's not totally out of order for pushing back on the home fans. If your readers are interested, we have an article up on the topic over at The Busby Babe.

WAGNH: Who's the next (ex-)Chelsea player/coach all y'all are going to sign?

tBB: I'd take Marcos Alonso in January, if you're offering.

WAGNH: Stamford Bridge has not been a happy hunting ground for United for a long time (1 win in the last 15 trips); can that change this weekend and if so, how will you do it?

tBB: It's not going to be because we swarm you with attacking football, that's for sure. If we get a result, it'll be typical of Mourinho in an away match against a big rival. Keep it tight, score on the counter, put the clamps on.

WAGNH: Will you actually do it and by what scoreline (i.e. a prediction, if you will)?

tBB: One win in fifteen years, with key players injured or out of form, and Chelsea looking for a reaction after a bad loss? 2-0 United, obviously.