ANOTHER NEW MANAGERIAL START AGAINST MANCHESTER

By Rowan Farnham-Long
Sep 20th, 2007

Chelsea travel to Old Trafford this weekend, still reeling from the sensational news of José Mourinho’s departure as manager of the Blues. The timing of his departure could not have been worse, just days out from the match against the side that stole our Premiership crown, Manchester United.

With Avram Grant and Steve Clarke named in charge of the first team from today, the Chelsea side faces a real shake up of backroom staff and coaches, hardly the ideal preparation for this, one of the biggest away matches of the season. With Mourinho’s departure still clouded in controversy, Chelsea has to swing the focus to the match itself, in time for this weekends encounter.

Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, the source of 50 goals between them last season, are likely to miss the match, as well as long term injury victims Wayne Bridge and Michael Ballack. Claudio Pizarro is also in doubt having missed the ill-fated draw with Rosenborg, Mourinho’s last match in charge of Chelsea.

Andriy Shevchenko will look to build on his lively midweek performance with another similar display here, whilst John Obi Mikel will look to compete with Claude Makelélé for a start in the centre of the midfield, with Steve Sidwell having dropped off the radar. Juliano Belletti will hope to continue his impressive start to his Chelsea career, but he will face his toughest test yet against a side containing Ronaldo, Giggs and Rooney.

Despite the enormity of this match, it is likely to be overshadowed by The Special One leaving our shores, having never lost a home match in his time as Chelsea manager.

Three seasons, two English Premierships, two League Cups and one FA Cup later, José Mourinho as Chelsea manager is no more. It seems that perhaps the most important egg has fallen out of the basket, and he will be truly missed.

Long live The Special One.

Prediction: Backlash from the ridiculous events surrounding Mourinho will spur the Blues on to a 1-0 victory; skipper John Terry to score one, for José.

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