Jose Mourinho stepping out onto the pitch at full time in Turin, cupping his ear and absorbing the raucous jeers from Juventus supporters is exactly the figure Manchester United fans have been aching to see again.
The Special One hasn’t been quite so special at the helm at Old Trafford, but a recent turnaround in Mourinho’s attitude and more importantly, results, is helping him win over the hefty majority of supporters at Old Trafford.
At the height of The Special One’s managerial career, Mourinho won a historical treble with Inter, which was certain to earn him an old rival’s welcome among Juventus supporters.
At full-time Mourinho channelled his inner Neil Lennon, strolling onto the pitch, cupping his ear and goading The Old Lady fans. An iconic image reminding us of the Mourinho of old.
“I didn’t offend anyone at the end, I just made a gesture that I wanted to hear them louder,” Mourinho remarked in his post-match press conference. “I probably shouldn’t have done it, and with a cool head I wouldn’t have done it, but with my family insulted, including my Inter family, I reacted like this.”
The Portuguese coach has now won three back-to-back 2-1 victories, against Everton, Bournemouth and Juventus.
Turin has been kind to Manchester United in the past but the Serie A champions went into the game as hefty favourites, and a draw would have been a positive result to take home. A win? Magnificent.
Sanchez started up top again in place of the injured Romelu Lukaku, and seemed fired up for the game from the opening whistle, chasing down defenders and looking to get involved in the final third as much as possible.
After a solid first half performance keeping Juventus at bay and holding their own in the midfield, it was of course Cristiano Ronaldo who broke the deadlock with a first-time over-the-shoulder volley which only a handful of players in the game could summon. A strike of such recognisable quality, that sometimes you just have to sit back and applaud.
Going into this fixture, Juventus hadn’t conceded in the any of their previous three Champions League games, and were unbeaten in 14 outings in all competitions this season.
The Juventus defence was about to get ransacked by an unlikely duo. Juan Mata was summoned from the bench to deliver a delicate free-kick beyond Sczezny and level the scoring with five minutes to go.
Marouane Fellaini was also brought on and his towering presence was enough to shake the stellar Italian defence, rising high and allowing Ashley Young’s cross to rustle through his frizzy blonde curls on its way towards the Juventus goal.
It was enough. Fellaini sucked Juventus’ Machiavellian captain Chiellini in behind him and drew the space required for a last-ditch attempt on goal.
A bit of luck was granted as Alex Sandro couldn’t help keep a difficult bouncing ball out as United’s players wheeled away in triumphant celebration. Two goals in the last five minutes in Turin to seal a pivotal three points for Mourinho’s men.
It was another substitution, Marcus Rashford, who should have finished the game off a minute from time, but it was the outstretched leg of Sczezny which denied United a perhaps unfair scoreline of 3-1 at the death.
United’s performance was a complete turnaround from the effort seen in Old Trafford two weeks ago, where they struggled to breakdown the Italian defence, and were bossed in the midfield for the majority of the game.
After picking up three important wins and some invaluable momentum, United travel to The Etihad on Sunday to take on Guardiola’s high-flying Man City in the first Manchester derby of the season.
In United’s last visit to across Manchester, Paul Pogba starred in a surprising 3-2 comeback, and Mourinho’s men will be crossing into enemy territory, quietly confident of achieving a result against the Premier League champions again.