Jose Mourinho's remarkable record of never losing a home Premier League game with Chelsea survived thanks to a controversial injury time penalty. Ralph Ellis sees similarities with how another great manager used to be...
"There’s a lot of confusion in the market at the moment in what is shaping up to be a fascinating contest for the Premier League title. Chelsea are 1.434/9 favourites for a top three finish, yet 2.245/4 third favourites to end up in the top two. Small factors will end up making a big difference."
There is no evidence that Jose Mourinho was stood in his technical area tapping a stopwatch; No suggestion, in fact, that he did anything at all to influence Andre Marriner into giving Chelsea a ridiculous 95th minute penalty. But the thought remains, nonetheless. Is The Special One becoming the new Fergie?
The ability of Sir Alex to create a subtle influence on referees at Old Trafford was one of the hallmarks of his management. Right from the day when Steve Bruce's header after 97 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday set up United's first Premier League title, the legend of "Fergie Time" was born.
Referees knew that if they gave a big decision against United it would be analysed to the nth degree, so human nature tended to ensure that they wouldn't go down that road unless they were 100 per cent certain. I started out not believing the endless succession of players and coaches I heard moaning about how refs gave them nothing on a visit to Old Trafford. I ended up realising there was a reason for their complaints.
Sir Alex has finally stood down, and the intimidating glare from the touchline is no longer there. So now it is Mourinho, with his mastery of how to make the media work in his favour, who is going to apply some of the lessons he has learned.
You can run the footage of Ramires falling over Steven Reid as many times as you like, and it looks less and less like a foul each time. The Brazilian had begun falling before he gets close to West Brom's defender. Reid himself had already realised he was on the wrong side of the Chelsea player and stepped away to make sure he made no contact.
Yet Mourinho in his after match interviews was emphatic that it was a penalty. He didn't even have the good grace, like Mark Hughes whose Stoke side got out of jail at Swansea thanks to an equally poor decision, to admit he got lucky. The subliminal message from the Chelsea manager for the future is quite simple. He expects to get the marginal decisions at Stamford Bridge, and woe betide any ref if he doesn't.
There's a lot of confusion in the market at the moment in what is shaping up to be a fascinating contest for the Premier League title. Chelsea are 1.434/9 favourites for a top three finish, yet 2.245/4 third favourites to end up in the top two. Small factors will end up making a big difference.
Jamie Carragher reckoned that Ferguson's presence on the touchline was worth ten points a season to United. Mourinho is now the strongest management personality in the Premier League and it looks as if he could have the same effect.
Chelsea are stuttering through games at the moment. Losing at Newcastle and nearly against West Brom confirms that they are not finding their rhythm, and their manager hasn't sorted out his best team yet. Their top three strikers have just two Premier League goals between them. But what they have got is Mourinho's force of personality to squeeze extra points out of games - just in the way that Fergie used to.