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Focus on Jose Mourinho as his Old Trafford return ends in defeat

UK & international sports | Published:

Mourinho received a warm reception from the Manchester United fans.

Jose Mourinho (right) faced successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Jose Mourinho made his first return to Manchester United following his sacking last December as Tottenham visited in the Premier League.

It was not the return he wanted, either, as United put in one of their best displays of the season to win 2-1.

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the Portuguese’s return to Manchester.

Team selection

Harry Winks was brought into the side
Harry Winks was brought into the side (Martin Rickett/PA)

Given his first three games in charge of Spurs were against West Ham, Olympiacos and Bournemouth, no one really knew whether the pragmatic Mourinho, one who was always cautious in games against the big clubs, still existed. The Portuguese had gone with an attacking formation in those matches and he followed suit at Old Trafford. His selection of Harry Winks can been seen as an attacking change, the ball-playing midfielder coming in for the more defensive Eric Dier. By going with a front four of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min, it was clear Mourinho wanted to get at Manchester United’s weak defence.

Reception

Mourinho was warmly received on his return
Mourinho was warmly received on his return (Martin Rickett/PA)

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Back at Old Trafford 351 days after his dismissal, Mourinho was in a good mood before the match. After embracing with his successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the tunnel, there was also a more public show of solidarity as they again hugged in the technical area before kick-off. Mourinho also gave his former players who were named on United’s bench a handshake before the game. He was afforded warm applause by home fans in the Bobby Charlton Stand on his way up the touchline as it all passed off very cordially. He was ultimately undone by a poor performance from his side, which ruined his return.

Touchline antics

Mourinho brought Winks (right) into his side
Mourinho was almost knocked off his feet in the first half (Martin Rickett/PA)

Mourinho, armed with a little black notebook, had cause to prowl the touchline from an early stage as his side fell behind in the sixth minute to Marcus Rashford’s strike. He was positive in his response as he tried to gee his side up. His proximity to the pitch landed him with an injury in the 13th minute as Harry Winks took out Daniel James on the touchline and the United winger was sent crashing into Mourinho’s shin. He wisely retreated to the bench for a while afterwards and was only brought back by Dele Alli’s brilliant equaliser. His celebration was understated, barely acknowledging the goal. There was another hug for Solskjaer at the end before Mourinho went on the pitch to shake the hands of his former players, some who gave him a warm reception.

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