Wolves this weekend, Sunday 2pm.
A harsh judge could view this as Mourinho’s second audition. He flunked the first one you’ll remember, majorly, by presiding over our meek display against Manchester United.
A dreadful display that night burst the bubble of optimism that had been created by the three successive wins that started at the London Stadium.
We were overwhelmed in midfield, anonymous up front, hesitant at the back and porous at Gazzaniga’s near post.
Since then, pretty much the same team took Burnley apart whilst Man Utd deservedly won at Middle Eastlands. This of course makes our loss look less concerning even if recalling the showing still induces a shudder.
Wolves have had a great few seasons. This year, it looked as though the extra burden of the Europa League was going to be their undoing but a few early hiccoughs have been overcome and they are currently on a run of only one defeat in eighteen games in all competitions. (That loss was to Aston Villa in the League Cup).
Their form is built on a string of solid defensive displays and the ability of the team to score from anywhere. Yes, Jimenez has led from the front with six goals but eight other players have contributed.
Their full backs are rampant, their centre-halves tree-like, their midfield industrious and very creative. Jimenez and Jota are both in form.
Sigh. Not the best time to play them then.
Still, this is what Mourinho is paid the big bucks for, to get results in games where getting results seems unlikely.
He left the majority of his first choice defence at home during the week presumably with the idea of someone in his new coaching team drilling in to them how to defend, or how he wants them to defend. Lord I hope it works, though it’s hard to see how much of an effect that can have with the midfield in Germany. Unless Winks and Ndombele are the new Makelele and Essien. Hmm.
Despite Wolves’ impressive form they are only one point clear of us in sixth place. A repeat of last year’s victory at Molineux would obviously enable us to leap frog them and would give Frank Lampard pause for thought given that we face them the week before Christmas. Chelski’s dip in form will also have been noticed at Old Trafford of course.
Kane and Dele are in good form but it’s likely to be the speed of Son and Lucas that Mourinho will look to for goals. The remainder of the side must must be more solid, decisive and dominating if we’re going to spring what would be a surprise (despite what the bookies think) and get the result we want.
Stuart Atwell is the referee.
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