100th Win Would Show Why Manchester United Should Have Picked Mourinho Not Moyes

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2014

(FILE PHOTO - EDITORS NOTE:  COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image Numbers 175984906 (L) and 176743320)  In this composite image a comparison has been made between David Moyes, Manager of Manchester United (L) and Jose Mourinho, Manager of Chelsea.  Premiership title favorites Manchester United and Chelsea meet at Old Trafford, Manchester on August 26, 2013.   *** LEFT IMAGE*** LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Manchester United manager David Moyes issues instructions during of the FA Community Shield match between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic at Wembley Stadium on August 11, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)   ***RIGHT IMAGE***  LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

Never one to understate things, it was a somewhat uncharacteristic response from Jose Mourinho.

“My 100th victory in the Premier League is going to happen,” he said in his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s clash with Manchester United. “We are going to try to do it [on Sunday].”

Often criticized for being a little too self-promoting at times, if ever there were a moment for Mourinho to bang his own drum to the media, it was Friday.

But this is a different Mourinho we're seeing these days. The bravado is still very much there, but there's an ever more determined mind behind it all. And he has a point to prove to those who may have doubted his Special One status after a torrid last 12 months at Real Madrid.

Landmarks such as a 100th victory in a competition as competitive as the Premier League do not come around often, but when United visit Stamford Bridge this weekend, there's a very real possibility Mourinho will be celebrating a whole lot more.

He's right to be cautious, of course. This is Manchester United after all, the champions of England. For the first time in a long while, however, David Moyes' side are overwhelmingly the underdogs.

LONDON - AUGUST 15:  Eidur Gudjohnsen of Chelsea scores their first goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on August 15, 2004 in London. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Phil Cole/Getty Images

The transition from Sir Alex Ferguson's reign to that of his fellow Scot has been far from smooth. Three successive defeats at the turn of the year have transformed an already tough situation into a crisis. Traveling to West London for a showdown with Chelsea is the last thing the Red Devils need right now.

Indeed, it's a fixture laden with a considerable sense of occasion.

It could very well prove to be Mourinho's Premier League century, but that isn't enough. It will be a moment added to by the fact it comes against the team where it all started.

Sir Alex was the first manager Mourinho faced in England way back in August 2004, with the Portuguese winning the game 1-0 courtesy of an Eidur Gudjohnsen goal.

The Icelander's effort that day was vital. It not only gave Chelsea three points—it proved the Blues were ready to usher in a new era for English football. Perhaps even more so, it confirmed the arrival of Mourinho.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Manchester United Manager David Moyes and Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho ((R) look on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Up to that point it was all very much bravado. He was a European champion and had won titles in his homeland. But for the English media, he needed to cut it in the Premier League to truly live up to his billing.

And that he did.

It's why, when the opportunity was there, many onlookers were baffled that United's top brass didn't at least consider Mourinho as Sir Alex's replacement last summer.

He was on the market, yet to Chelsea's benefit, he was overlooked. We don't know for certain whether he would have taken the job, although the club certainly missed out on an opportunity by not even trying to tempt him.

Mourinho's CV speaks for itself—league titles in four different countries, historic trebles and European trophies with two different clubs.

His credentials are not in doubt, but those of his opposite number at United are right now. Time will tell if Moyes can turn things around to put the Old Trafford club back on top of the pile, yet there's no such concern for Mourinho and Chelsea.

His team is going strong, pushing for the title and beginning to look formidable. It's a team built around youth, too, while United's contains more aging stars than their manager would like.

It's a mammoth task for the former Everton man and one not made any easier when he has the likes of Mourinho for competition.

What we will see at Stamford Bridge on Sunday is The Master vs. The Apprentice. For the best part of three decades, it was United on the front foot in that matchup—although with Mourinho and Moyes there's no question where the pendulum swings.

The managers in opposite dugouts show the difference between these teams right now. If Mourinho can seal his century, it will only add weight to the growing feeling that United made a considerable error when Sir Alex decided his time was up.

And how Mourinho and Chelsea supporters will revel in that.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes


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