Manchester United: Jose Mourinho set to end St James’ Park curse?
The Manchester United manager has not won in six league visits to Newcastle United. Will that record finally end on Sunday?
Perhaps the most surprising statistic ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures is Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho’s record away at Newcastle United.
The Portuguese boss has been in charge of six league games at St James’ Park across his two stints as Chelsea manager, but has failed to win any of them.
Mourinho has only ever tasted victory at the ground once –in the League Cup – and his Chelsea side were eliminated from both the League Cup and the FA Cup in the North East during his debut season.
No ground has proven as difficult for the manager to win at in league competition, not even the Camp Nou, Old Trafford, the Emirates Stadium or Anfield.
Ending a barren run
Now appears an ideal time for the former Porto, Inter and Real Madrid manager to end his barren run at the stadium.
Newcastle are without a home league win in their last eight – a run stretching back to October and they are now just one match shy of an unwanted club record.
With only 11 goals and 13 points from their 13 home matches to date this campaign, no side has struggled at home quite as much as the Magpies.
Furthermore, St James’ Park has recently turned into a happy hunting ground for United, who have lost just one match at the stadium since 2002.
It is also a place with particular significance for the Setubal-native, who rejected the chance to follow Sir Bobby Robson to the Geordies in 1999 – despite reportedly being promised he could take the managerial job upon Robson’s retirement. Instead, Mourinho built his own managerial legacy and the rest is history.
Blast from the past
The Portuguese’s first league visit to Newcastle came on the final day of his debut campaign – following the two cup eliminations – with Frank Lampard’s penalty rescuing a point for Chelsea after Geremi’s own goal.
The following campaign, a late Titus Bramble goal downed the Blues but again, the league title had already been wrapped up.
The scoreless draw in 2007 carried much greater significance, as Mourinho’s men ultimately surrendered the title to Sir Alex Ferguson’s United.
The curse continues
Mourinho then departed Stamford Bridge to win league titles in both Italy and Spain before returning six years later but he still could not find the code to collecting all three points away to the Magpies.
His first season back saw late goals from Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy condemn Chelsea to defeat while the following year – where his side would regain their title – was another traumatic one, as the Blues’ 23-game unbeaten streak was ended by two Papiss Cisse strikes.
The last time the two-time Champions League winner made a trip to the stadium was arguably the most enjoyable of the games, as his side recovered a point despite being 2-0 down with 12 minutes remaining, thanks to goals from Ramires and Willian.
Is this it?
This is a different Newcastle side to those he has previously faced, having been relegated and undergoing a scale-back in first-team investment.
Rafael Benitez is an old adversary of Mourinho’s who has previously enjoyed strong results against him, yet while the two managers may share a rivalry, the two teams do not.
Despite taking an early lead at Old Trafford in November, Benitez’s men succumbed to a heavy 4-1 defeat.
Mourinho must now be keen on the chance to put this hoodoo to bed once and for all.
Is this it? Will Jose Mourinho finally overcome his St James’ Park Curse? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.