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Jose Mourinho is a more natural fit in the Manchester United away dugout

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Jose Mourinho is a more natural fit in the Manchester United away dugout but hopes of returning to Old Trafford with a win soon made way for mental (and physical) anguish in his first defeat as Tottenham managerJose Mourinho returned to Manchester United for first time since being sackedBut one year on from dismissal he was unable to prevent his Spurs side losingTwo goals from Marcus Rashford inflicted his first defeat as Tottenham boss 

He tried to make out it wasn’t about him but it was always going to be about him. It usually is with Jose Mourinho.

‘I’m not a villain, I'm not an enemy but I am the coach that is trying to win against Manchester United,’ he said before his first return to Old Trafford as Tottenham manager two weeks short of the anniversary of his sacking here.

‘During the match I expect them (the United fans) to forget me and to support their team.’

Jose Mourinho steps off the Tottenham Hotspur team coach upon arriving at Old Trafford

The Tottenham boss waved to Manchester United staff members as he returned to his ex-club

Possibly. But Mourinho was never going to be anything but a central character in this production.

From the moment the Tottenham coach pulled up outside Old Trafford, all eyes were going to be on him.

It arrived in good time at 6.04pm. Mourinho, who once got off the United bus and walked to a Champions League game against Juventus here, knows not to trust the Manchester traffic.

He was one of the first down the steps and automatically extended a hand as he entered his old workplace. Once inside, there were smiles and high-fives for the security staff, some of whom haven’t forgotten that he hardly gave them a second look during his two-and-a-half years in charge of United.

They, like the rest of us, don’t expect the humility and bonhomie to last very long.

Mourinho lingered around the mouth of the tunnel for a while before kick-off and then tried to make a low-profile entrance, conspicuous only by the steward in a hi-viz vest and TV camera crew that accompanied him every step of the way.

United supporters were indifferent to Mourinho's return to the Old Trafford dugout

The Spurs boss shook hands with his United successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before the game

The United fans who had lauded him through the window of the Sky Sports studio here before a recent home game against Liverpool seemed rather indifferent to his presence.

They appreciated what he did for their club but Mourinho was always a slightly awkward fit as United manager, albeit a perfect riposte to Manchester City’s appointment of Pep Guardiola in 2016.

The sight of him in the away dugout, in charge of a London team, seemed more natural as he stationed himself on the touchline for most of the game.

Having taking up his usual position, there are many things the 56-year-old would have wanted last night. A win? Definitely. A bit of love? Perhaps. But not a physio surely.

Mourinho was soon left wincing after being caught by a tumbling Daniel James in the first half

The Portuguese desperately tried to inspire his Spurs side who slumped to a 2-1 defeat 

It almost came to that in the 13th minute when Harry Winks sent Dan James flying off the pitch with a sliding tackle and the United man crashed into Mourinho, colliding with right leg.

The Spurs boss hobbled around his technical area wincing in pain, but had recovered sufficiently to rush out the dugout when Dele Alli equalised six minutes before half-time – just as he had when Marcus Rashford struck early on.

There was a flash of frustration when Moussa Sissoko conceded a penalty early in the second half as Mourinho spun around to vent at his coaching stuff, but merely resignation when Rashford scored from the spot.

Mourinho stuffed his hands in his pockets and there they stayed for the rest of the game. His first defeat as Tottenham manager, and at Old Trafford of all places.

Mourinho frowns late on in the game as Spurs in vain tried to find an equaliser

Luke Shaw was greeted by his former manager at the end of the Premier League encounter

 


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