Chelsea turn on the style for Mourinho’s return to the Bridge
Mourinho milked the moment with some extravagant blowing of kisses
Chelsea’s manager Jose Mourinho reacts during their soccer match against Hull City. Photograph: Reuters/Toby Melville
The stadium announcer cleared his throat and held up his microphone to address the stands. “I’m looking forward to introducing this manager more than the last one,” he told the crowd. Stamford Bridge bellowed its approval and the new era was under way.
In the more amorous moments, it was possible to find grown men throwing rose petals to Jose Mourinho from the stands. Well, not quite. Yet this was an unrelenting love-in and it has been a long time since Stamford Bridge has felt such a contented place.
Mourinho milked the moment with some extravagant blowing of kisses (both hands, naturally). Roman Abramovich waved to the crowd and the team played with enough panache in the first half to make sure there was never any danger the homecoming would not go to plan.
On the contrary, they are probably entitled to feel they could have marked the occasion with a proper old-fashioned thrashing given the way they pummelled their opponents in that opening period. Chelsea’s pace dropped after the interval. They had started to look a little jaded before the end and, for 10 minutes or so, Hull were even emboldened enough to threaten Petr Cech’s goal.
Yet the damage was done inside a first half when Chelsea played some wonderful, slick football and the crowd never tired of serenading the returning hero. “The reception was amazing,” Mourinho said afterwards, though he did then say it was time the Chelsea fans started singing about the players.
Both goals arrived inside the first 25 minutes and the photographers, with their lenses permanently trained on Chelsea’s dugout, would have had another of those fist-pumping celebrations if Frank Lampard had not whacked a sixth-minute penalty too close to Allan McGregor.
Lampard simply shook his head clear and when there was a chance to make amends, with a free-kick closer to the centre circle than the penalty area, his shot, dipping, swerving and soaring into the top corner, demanded immediate inclusion in his portfolio of great goals.
For Hull, that was probably the first reminder of how brutal this league can be.
Speed of thought
They will not always be confronted by teams with this speed of thought and movement but there was a telling moment, just before half-time, when Mourinho became engaged in conversation with Steve Bruce and the Hull manager could be seen clasping his hands together and looking to the skies.
Bruce looked as though he were praying for some kind of mercy. Afterwards he said he would like to play with 13 men next time – and had just asked Mourinho for Lampard on loan.
Oscar, in particular, shimmered with menace during that exhilarating 45-minute period, playing just behind Fernando Torres but often dropping deep, such an elusive opponent.