Jose Mourinho, as manager of Manchester United, saw his side humbled in a relatively tame Manchester derby on this day in 2018.
There is an old belief that managers and coaches in the world of sport have sell-by dates. The sell-by date of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United had already come by the end of 2018.
That the Portuguese is one of the all-time managerial greats in the world of football is well-known. However, his recent history in jobs has always followed a familiar pattern.
His arrival will coincide with an upturn of results, then in some success and then ends in tears. It is a pattern most avid football fans are aware of by this point. And the same thing happened at Manchester United.
His first season in 2016-17 saw the club win the Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League. The following season brought a second-place finish in the Premier League and an FA Cup final loss.
By the time the 2018-19 season started, however, signs of malcontent had begun to form. And nowhere was this more evident than on the pitch, as results were up and down.
And against Manchester City, a team managed by arch-nemesis Pep Guardiola, things would go down fast. In many ways, it spelt the beginning of the end for his tenure.
With 3 years having passed since the day, let us look back at a Manchester derby that was fairly one-sided and lacked any real bite.
The start of the 2018-19 season had not been kind to Jose Mourinho. It started well enough, with a 2-1 win over Leicester City. But back-to-back losses to Brighton and Tottenham had alarm bells ringing in certain quarters.
Two wins and a draw thereafter steadied the ship but another loss – this time to West Ham – brought further scrutiny. Again, this was followed by three wins and a draw for United.
Their Champions league form was also mixed. They started with a win over Young Boys, before drawing to Valencia and losing to Juventus. A win over Juventus in the return leg helped steady the ship.
But it was plain that this was far from a vintage United side – or even a Mourinho side. The Portuguese manager didn’t help his cause either, getting into disagreements with journalists and going into his now-infamous “respect” rant.
The Manchester derby, however, was seen as a key fixture for the side. Not only was it a local derby, but also a game against the defending champions. The result could make or break United’s season.
The start of the match saw City impose themselves by dominating the ball. United, as expected, were content to sit back and wait for a counter-attacking move.
However, it did not take long for City to draw first blood. In the 12th minute, David Silva made a wonderful little turn and passed to Raheem Sterling on the left side.
Sterling found space and played a cross that looked too deep at first. However, Bernardo Silva managed to rescue the ball and square it to David.
The veteran Spaniard took a touch and slammed a shot through David de Gea’s arms. United were 1-0 down with the game still in its early stages.
Amazingly, United fought back thereafter. Where they were once pinned in to their own half, they now pushed forward and made the game a midfield battle.
Crucially for City, however, they created little of note. Indeed, as the half wore on City grew back into the game and could have been 2-0 up. Bernardo Silva played in Sergio Aguero, who made a hash of things and only found the side netting.
There was to be no such mistake in the beginning of the second half, however. Bernardo played a ball to Aguero, who carried it till the edge of the box and played a one-two with Riyad Mahrez.
Collecting the return a little wider than he would have liked, Aguero nevertheless leathered one past De Gea’s near post. 2-0 to City now.
It could have been 3-0 and game over had Sterling not hogged the ball instead of shooting when put through by Fernandinho. The game changed, however, when Mourinho brought on Romelu Lukaku from the bench.
The Belgian was fouled by Ederson inside the area and Anthony Martial converted the spot-kick. 2-1 and United, unbelievably, had a chance at salvaging a result.
The game became more open thereafter, prompting both managers to make attacking substitutions. Mourinho brought on Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata; Guardiola brought on Ilkay Gundogan for Aguero.
It was the latter sub that worked out better. Gundogan applied the finishing touch to a 44-pass sequence when Bernardo found him with a sumptuous cross from the right. The German tapped in to secure the win.
The game was very much the beginning of the end for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. He stayed at the helm for five more games, of which United won just one, drew three and lost one.
The loss – which came against Liverpool a little over a month later – was his last game in charge at Old Trafford.