Italian Serie A champions Juventus appointed Maurizio Sarri as their new coach, hoping that the Chelsea manager’s ambitious possession-based game will extend their dominance of Italian football and bring them European silverware.
Despite a full weekend of Premier League fixtures, there was one game which everyone was focused on.
Stamford Bridge played host to an unbeaten home side and a bizarrely led and inconsistently performing visitor from Manchester.
Chelsea appeared firm favourites and with United’s chances of European qualification seeming to wane, all the pressure was on Jose Mourinho’s men.
The season of Manchester United reads like a WWE script. A dysfunctional team, clunky and disjointed on the pitch, rumours of a player mutiny and the entire production choreographed by a pantomime villain ready to explode.
If anyone thought their dramatic start to the season had reached its limit after eight weeks, how wrong they were. Any chance of the Red Devils going on an under the radar, clinical run of wins that repairs relationships and returns the manager to something near sanity still looks a pipe dream.
Mourinho was taunted, goaded, teased and eventually caught hook, line and sinker by the Chelsea fans. His state of mind wasn’t helped by a promising start from the Blues, who took the lead after 21 minutes from the head of Antonio Rudiger.
The home side looked polished and organised in attack, but all credit to the visitors, who were able to shift the momentum of the match and employ a more physical game that negatively impacted Chelsea’s rhythm in midfield.
Eventually, it paid dividends and wonderful goals to Anthony Martial in the 55th and 73rd minutes had United on the brink of an unlikely and unpredictable victory.
Chelsea threw all they had at the visitors and in a rather primal goalmouth scramble, grabbed a 96th-minute equaliser that sent the fans into rapture as Mourinho became their prime target.
The same could be said of the Chelsea bench, who let Mourinho well and truly know his constant reminders of the three Premier League titles he nurtured at Stamford Bridge aren’t appreciated.
After weeks of turmoil and much personal insult launched in his direction, Mourinho exploded in rage, furious that three points had slipped away.
He pointed and spat vitriol at his agitators, all the while, held back by staff. It was a dramatic end to an entertaining afternoon which saw Chelsea slip off the title setting pace of Manchester City and Liverpool.
Elsewhere, Erik Lamela found the net for Tottenham again to send West Ham to its sixth loss of the season and Newcastle remained winless after a 1-0 loss to Brighton in a match which was crucial for both in terms of avoiding relegation.
Cardiff won at home after slotting four past Fulham and Manchester City continued its stellar form with Burnley on the end of a five-goal pounding. Liverpool kept pace with City as Mohamed Salah found the net after a slow start to the season, while Watford scored an excellent 2-0 away victory against Wolverhampton.
While some excellent football was played, it was all about Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, with the disappointment of the late goal inciting another aggressive reaction from Mourinho.
The apology from the guilty Chelsea assistant, who appeared to come in close proximity to the manager, has been accepted and life goes on. However, once again, the Portuguese manager spoke of respect in the post-game, feeling aggrieved at those who had made his afternoon somewhat uncomfortable, as well as questioning the injury time added by the referee.
It is hard to fathom how WWE scriptwriters top themselves from week to week when it comes to Manchester United, but they keep doing it.
It will all resume on Matchday ten when the Red Devils host Everton. In a pure footballing sense, something that often appears secondary when Mourinho is involved, the match between Tottenham and Manchester City sees another challenger with the opportunity to derail City’s charge.
The longer the season runs the less likely it appears that anyone can interrupt the undisputed champions of Manchester, whilst the red part of that City remains a volatile mystery.