There was a time when a Jose Mourinho team was feared. The team had an attitude, they were hard to break down, had character and most importantly, defined the phrase ‘never say die’. If we look at the best Mourinho sides- Chelsea (2004-07), Inter Milan (2008-10), Porto (2002-04)- can be perceived to be stalwarts in the respective years. Each of the above sides had grit and a stubbornness which yielded results.In those years, Mourinho was also living the best years of his career. He was young, hot-blooded and hungry. Unfortunately, those are tales of the past and football, like it or not, has a short memory.

Chelsea dismantling Manchester United at Stamford Bridge yesterday can be seen as a statement from the West London club to the rest of the Premier League. On the flip side, it is also sends another message; that Jose Mourinho has lost his touch and that, the tag of the 'Special One' is under severe scrutiny.

Older and more (In)efficient Jose?

The present Mourinho, is an older, more matured (supposedly!) and more experienced. He has traveled around Europe and had his fair share of spoils. During his Chelsea homecoming it was adjudged that he would dominate a much changed Premier League.His third season at Chelsea was shambolic to say the least.

It was the first time a Mourinho side looked weak, out of ideas and completely demotivated during a title-defending season.After Van Gaal’s failings in Manchester United, it was quite evident through media reports that the seat at Old Trafford was being kept warm for Mourinho. He was given a massive budget as opposed to what he received at Chelsea.

He brought in players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba- typical Mourinho moves. Spend money and bring quality players and more importantly players with massive characters who can be leaders on the pitch.

After Sir Alex, Manchester United lost their image and that fear factor which helped them dominate the league. With Mourinho at the helm along with players like Rooney, Ibrahimovic and Pogba that lost image was beginning to take shape again in the Theatre of Dreams.As of now , United is nowhere near the top of the table.

They are five points behind the leaders Manchester City, sitting in a miserable seventh position. Such a situation although shocking, is beginning to familiarise itself with Mourinho. The league, this season, is at its competitive best.

Manchester United stalwarts silenced

On one side we witnessed Conte jumping and shouting out instructions to the players, while on the other we saw a jaded and lacklustre Mourinho looking on in dismay. He didn’t seem to have any answers.

What was surprising was that, the leading men in the Manchester United lineup namely Ibrahimovic and Pogba were nowhere to be seen. They were silent, or should I say, silenced by the opposition. Pogba couldn't influence the game from an advanced no.10 position while Ibrahimovic was restricted by the three-man Chelsea defence.

At times like these when a Mourinho team is having a bad day, we expect the stalwarts to take charge and make a daring comeback. On the contrary, we saw the United team crumble down more in the second half conceding two more goals. The icing on the cake was the moment when N’Golo Kante, a defensive midfielder cut open the United defence like butter to score the fourth goal.

The top managers namely Guardiola, Conte, Klopp, Wenger and even Pochettino are actively involved in the title race. Mourinho should have been up there by now. It doesn’t matter whether you are at the top of the table or not, it is mandatory that you are at least in the race. Manchester United are not fulfilling that target now.

This clearly shows that Mourinho is lacking something which made him one of the best managers in world football at one point of time. As of this moment, can any of us see anything ‘Special’ in Mourinho? It is a tough question to answer.