David Moyes wins first battle with an elite manager, Wayne Rooney is sharp and John Terry could still play for England
The Special One, as he wished, arrived at Old Trafford with his gang having played and won a game more than Manchester United, due to Friday's Super Cup showdown with Bayern Munich moving the Aston Villa game forward to the middle of last week. His hope was that Chelsea could leave Old Trafford with a total of nine points and a six-point lead over United, having inflicted a bloodied nose on David Moyes in what was his inaugural home league game.
Yet to jeers of "Sit down Mourinho" the Chelsea manager watched as his opposite number drew an impressive display from Wayne Rooney – there was a standing ovation from the United faithful for him late on – and from his team. Billed as the Chosen One, Moyes exited the evening having edged his first battle with an elite manager, showing Mourinho and the cognoscenti he means business.
"Rooney, Rooney!" As in the 4-1 win at Swansea City last Saturday week the unsettled striker was greeted by the crowd's familiar cry – except this time it came, in one of those comic moments only football folk can supply, from both sets of fans.
The Rooney each congregation witnessed was sharp, inventive and eager. The clever early touch that played in Robin van Persie was followed by many more and on 55 minutes a slide-rule pass into Danny Welbeck deserved the finish that would have given United the lead. To follow the sparkling cameo at Swansea where he created the last two goals with this display leaves no doubt that Rooney is focused – and still a prize asset. Moyes and United will sincerely hope he remains at Old Trafford.
I'm not scared to make decisions," declared the Portuguese when asked what his thinking was in fielding Eden Hazard, Oscar, Kevin De Bruyne and André Schürrle in a front four that had the latter most advanced, and featured no striker.
The sight of Fernando Torres, a terroriser of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic on previous occasions here, with his arms folded on the bench was the picture of a man just informed precisely how Mourinho views him. In front of the Spaniard in the pecking order was Schürrle, who by half-time had had the fewest touches of any player, and as the hour mark arrived Mourinho conceded his experiment of a wingman, Hazard, and three playmakers – Oscar, Schürrle and De Bruyne – had failed. He removed De Bruyne for Torres.
This was the first time Chelsea's warhorse had started three league games in 15 months and, during a subdued contest, whenever the captain was asked to make a header or put a boot in, or take up the right position, he was as strong and reliable as ever. Although he has officially retired from international duty, Terry has made it known that he would consider a return should England suffer a defensive crisis. Given this is a season that ends with a World Cup in Brazil, might he answer a straight forward selection from Roy Hodgson for a last hurrah?
The old firm at the centre of the United defence entered this game having played together in only 132 of the team's 283 Premier League matches since Vidic signed.
So, though early in the season, to see them start for a second consecutive match suggests a solidity that Moyes will hope continues: a fit Vidic-and-Ferdinand is a foundation that gives the very best chance of claiming trophies.
Here Ferdinand continued the form that got him voted into the last campaign's team of the year, the smooth step from defence to nick possession from Hazard at the start of the second half just one illustration.
Vidic has been the United man missing in action over the past 18 months due to two serious knee injuries but on this night he emphasised his continued value by expertly squeezing the space around Chelsea's front four.