Jose Mourinho thanked Stamford Bridge for the “fantastic” homecoming at their – and then promised Chelsea can be even better than during his first spell.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich held a morale-boosting pre-match meeting in the dressing room and the feel-good factor carried on as the fans cheered, held banners and gave Mourinho an inspirational reception.
Mourinho, who won back-to-back Premier League titles in his first reign at , claimed their devastating destruction of the Premier League newcomers in the opening 25 minutes was better than anything he has EVER seen.
“I’ve played so many times here and won so many matches here, but we’ve not had so many periods here like that quality,” said Mourinho.
“I’m very happy. We can’t play that way for 90 minutes – we had no energy, no physical energy and no mental availability to play that way.
“The three boys behind Fernando Torres were fantastic. In the second half they disappeared.
“All of them played national team matches: Kevin (De Bruyne), 85 minutes v France, Oscar, 80 minutes v Switzerland, Eden (Hazard), 80 minutes against France.
“When the creativity disappeared, we lost the danger in our game. But the game was already dead when I made the changes.
“The reception was fantastic.
“It gives me more responsibility, I guess. But at the same time they know I give everything for this club, but the reception was amazing.
“I was expecting that, to be fair, because I played here with Inter as an opponent and it was fantastic.
“I could imagine coming to Chelsea would be like that. But when the game started I focused on the game.
“They gave me more than I deserve, they gave me a lot, and they have to support the players from now on.”
Mourinho claimed his young squad is bursting with potential and also said Abramovich’s rallying cry shows the club is unified and together:
“We had Mr Abramovich in the dressing room with us for the first time in those years before the match, which means a lot to every group: a moment wishing everyone the best, the medical department, the players not selected, so to have Mr Abramovich coming from his holiday to be with the team meant a lot to all of us.
“We are together and know where we want to go. We know the profile of the squad we have. When you see De Bruyne, Oscar and Hazard as kids, Schurrle another one, Van Ginkel… kids who need stability, and we want to give them conditions to do well.
“We need to win matches. We can try to make this progression at the same time, get results and support the boys.”
Mourinho, who was without the injured David Luiz while Juan Mata was only fit enough for the bench, admitted he will try for another striker before the end of the window.
But he refused to confirm whether that means he will make .
, added: “We will try until the last day to add a new player to the squad. A striker.
“But in this moment, every striker has a club. Every striker belongs to somebody. And I don’t think it’s ethical I name players who belong to other clubs.
“If we have to make a bid, we make it in an official way. We don’t speak to players, but to clubs.
“We don’t try to influence players to behave in a certain way, as other clubs do. We behave in the correct manner and we’ll try for that until the last day of the transfer window.”
Manuel Pellegrini insists he is not fazed by the challenge of the Premier League and the pressure to deliver success at Manchester City.
Pellegrini begins his City reign with Monday night’s visit of Newcastle, his laid-back demeanour in stark contrast to the demonstrative and combative nature of his predecessor, Roberto Mancini.
Where Mancini brought conflict and tension, despite leading City to Premier League and FA Cup success, Pellegrini’s approach is the antithesis – a measured coach whose calm outlook is one of .
And while there may be pressure on Pellegrini to bring immediate success to , the 59-year-old Chilean says the role does not even represent the biggest challenge of his career.
Stints at River Plate, Real Madrid, Villarreal and Malaga have primed Pellegrini for the challenge of the Premier League, one he intends to take fully in his stride.
"It’s not fair to compare this with another challenge," said Pellegrini.
"I’ve worked in a lot of different leagues, very difficult leagues. To manage River Plate in Argentina is not easy. To manage Real Madrid in Spain is not easy.
"I’m very excited about my new job but I don’t want to compare. They are all very good leagues and I try to always give my best.
"For me, my target is that City must improve in all aspects.
"Last season it was a pity that City didn’t win at least the FA Cup.
"I think we must improve in Europe also. We have a strong team and the target of the club is to play Champions League, not only the group stage but to continue in the competition.
"We also have to work very hard to win against all the other teams and also bring the Premier League [title] back here.
"The football is a different style, and maybe we’ll need some time to try to play the way I want, but the targets for me and the club are always the highest."
While title rivals City, Manchester United and Chelsea all have new managers this season, Pellegrini is the only one without experience of the Premier League.
But City’s boss does not see that as a disadvantage, having studied the Premier League closely for the past nine years since he has been coaching in Europe.
"I don’t think it can be a problem for me [being new to the Premier League]," said Pellegrini. "I have a lot of experience in different countries and know a lot of things about Premier League, so I don’t think I give it any easier to other managers.
"I’m always watching different matches, so of all the Premier League teams I have all the information I need here.
"I have a very good squad, so I’m not nervous – there is excitement.
"It’s nothing different, as every year I start seasons in differentcountries.
"For me, the Premier League is the best league in Europe. I saw the statistics the other day – 95 per cent of stadiums are full every weekend.
"It has a high pace every match, all the teams are very well organised and they are good teams. So it has a lot of important things for good football."
City have spent close to £90million on four players so far this summer, the addition of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic giving the squad the depth and variety it needed.
City chief executive Ferran Soriano has set Pellegrini a target of five trophies in five years, the newly-appointed boss showing his lighterside by claiming he already has one in the bag, following the club’s triumph in the pre-season Barclays Asia Trophy.
"We just need four more after we won the Asia Trophy," joked Pellegrini. "No, I think we will try to do our best in all the competitions and when we finish the year we will see what happens with how many trophies we have won."
Gareth Barry’s future remains unclear, with the midfielder out of contract at the end of the season and facing a battle to play having fallen down the pecking order.
Asked if Barry could leave before the transfer deadline on September 2, Pellegrini said: "Maybe, it depends on what he wants. If he wants to go because has better options.
"I have in his position also Jack Rodwell, Javi Garcia, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho. But I spoke with Gareth, he wants to stay here and he doesn’t have any problems to stay here and fight for his position like other players in the squad.
"He’s here and in the squad and we will try to use it the whole year,depending on the performance of all the players."
Your Sunday night MOTD fix is back, andColin Murray is GONE, his brash, skittish ways replaced by the safe pair oflips that belong to Mark Chapman (not the one that shot John Lennon).
Where Murray’s presentational style wasoften reminiscent of someone who had raided the bathroom cabinet and neckedeverything therein, Chapman emits more of a ‘leaning with one elbow restingagainst the mantelpiece’ kind of vibe. Nice.
Jose is back at Stamford Bridge and isgreeted by a vast array of ugly homemade banners littered with grammaticalerrors.
Chelsea get an early penalty but FrankLampard fluffs the opportunity to give the new old boss the perfect start, asMcGregor saves the spot kick. Is Abramovich having second thoughts yet?
A few minutes later Oscar manages to scoreand the game is almost surely over as a contest.
Frank makes amends by drilling home a freekick from about half a mile out. Hull’s defenders seem content to watch it sailover their heads and Allan McGregor is wrong-footed. Sorry, but it’s not asgood as it looks.
Meanwhile, Jose and Steve Bruce enjoy somechummy banter with each other by the tunnel. Is Bruce enjoying his day out inLondon and the inevitable defeat for his team?
10:45 pmAndy Dawson
It ends 2-0 and BOTH managers are waxinglyrical about Chelsea’s performance. Watch out for Steve Bruce missing Hull’snext match and opting to hang around next to Mourinho by the Chelsea dugoutagain instead.
Alan Hansen and Gus Poyet are in theanalysis thrones. Last time Poyet was on, he found out Brighton had sacked him.
Maybe he’ll get some nicer news duringtonight’s show – like word that his car has been clamped or that his dog hasfallen down a well.
10:50 pmAndy Dawson
‘If there is one person who knows FrankLampard, it is Jose Mourinho,’ says Poyet, momentarily forgetting that the pairhaven’t worked together for six years.
Interesting body language from Alan Hansen,who is tightly gripping a pen. It obviously represents a spear and is a clear message tonew presenter Chapman. ‘Do not cross me – you saw what happened to Colin Murray’.
10:56 pmAndy Dawson
Crystal Palace v Tottenham looks tasty. There’s fans holding blue and red cards, and actual eagle watching over proceedings and a lovely close-up of the ref picking the match ball off the ceremonial plinth as the teams emerge.
Actually, that last feature is a bit weak. I’d like to see the eagle drop the match ball from its claws from a great height and for the match to get underway the moment the ball hits the ground.
Come on Premier League – let’s have a bird of prey at EVERY match!
11:00 pmAndy Dawson
It’s just occurred to me that this couldwell be the most entertaining Premier League in years.
Not only do we have thepotential of an open championship race, but we’ve got Jose Mourinho, Ian Holloway,Paolo Di Canio spouting hot air all over the place each and every week.
And Brendan Rodgers, and whatever that thinghe does is.
11:04 pmAndy Dawson
Roberto Soldado gets a debut Spurs goalfrom the penalty spot. It’s only the third goal to be scored by a bearded Spursplayer on a Sunday in a month with an ‘a’ in it since the Premier League began.
Palace respond by bringing on KevinPhillips. He’s the oldest outfield player in the Premier League’s history tohave played for clubs whose names can be rearranged into the phrase ‘Now Janeis the muddiest, but glad and sleeping’.
Couple of stats for you there…
11:08 pmAndy Dawson
It ends 1-0 to Spurs and Holloway is on the offensive against match officials right from the off, magnificently describing them as ‘these people’ with his season only 90 minutes old.
Mind you, he referred to the foul he was moaning about as ‘shoulder to shoulder’. So, a shoulder charge then. Man up, Ian.
11:13 pmAndy Dawson
If you’ve got an HD TV, take a look at AlanHansen’s neck. To be honest, you won’t thank me.
As part of the analysis, there’s more ofthe dots that we saw Alan Shearer using to make no point whatsoever last night.
I’d like to see match action demonstratedusing a Rorscach Test picture. ‘It’s two candlesticks – no, it’s Luis Suarezand Phil Jones about to butt heads!’
Now we’re getting a round-up of yesterday’sgoals. I’ll shut up for a bit as
11:27 pmAndy Dawson
Hansen and Poyet are discussing the trialsand tribulations of Arsene Wenger’s shoddy Arsenal side. I can’t hear whatthey’re saying – I’m mesmerised by the utterly ridiculous array ofbrightly-coloured boots as worn by the idiots that are today’s Premier Leaguefootballers.
Wahoo! ‘2 Good 2 Bad’ is back, to thedelight of absolutely no one, and we start with a shot of Adrian Chiles, theman who first brought us the creaky old feature.
We end with the league table. After onematch, it’s utterly meaningless – they might as well have shown us a watermelonwith a face drawn on it.
Hodgson’s England are flying the flag for the Home Nations in the qualifying campaign as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are now effectively playing for pride.
But for any football fan it is great just to have our national sport back after the summer break.
And to celebrate in style, we have got four sets of tickets to give away for the September qualifiers for the Home Nations. So you can go and support your team next month courtesy of Vauxhall – the Home Nations Sponsor.
Gordon Strachan’s Scotland gave England a stern test at Wembley in a friendly which was anything but. When football’s oldest rivals get together, the friendly part goes out of the window.
England twice had to come from behind to beat Scotland – and then threw up a lovely fairytale in the process. It set up a thrilling finish and, step forward, Southampton striker Rickie Lambert to score on his debut as the 31-year-old proved that, with hard work and determination, football dreams can come true.
Hodgson claims Lambert has now given himself a chance of going to the World Cup and that is the dream for any footballer.
Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have endured difficult campaigns. But Republic of Ireland are still in the mix as they warmed up for their next competitive games with a goalless draw against Wales in Cardiff.
Local rivalry and national pride count for a lot whenever any of our teams are playing which means you never get a meaningless friendly. When it comes to national pride, our determination, heart and hunger always mean the players are determined to do the fans proud.
So that was the weekend that was, when Premier League football finally came back after a long summer of Lions, Ashes and strawberries and cream.
We asked Andy Dawson, better known as Twitter’s Profanity Swan, to pick out some of the key things he noticed on the first weekend of the new top flight season.
1) Michael Owen will never succeed as a pundit
A tour guide in a haunted bakery, maybe. A voiceover artist in a promotionalfilm for a small Gloucester town, possibly. But a voice of authority covering ‘The Greatest League In The World’? Nah – the soporific striker is TV’s equivalent ofCharlie Brown’s teacher.
Arsene Wenger should not be offered a new contract while player recruitment remains under the spotlight, according to the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST).
The Frenchman was the target of criticism following , with a lack of summer signings again the main gripe.
chief executive Ivan Gazidis has spoken about the possibility of handing Wenger a new deal, with his current contract running out next summer.
But AST believes any decision on this must wait until the club’s performance can be properly analysed.
"A decision on whether to offer an extension to the manager’s contract which ends in May 2014 should only be taken following the closing of the transfer window and assessment of the team’s performances in the weeks ahead," it explained.
"Considerable improvement must be shown for us to be convinced this should happen, and we believe that other senior football appointments must come first."
Furthermore, the organisation added: "There remain important questions about the way player identification, recruitment and remuneration processes are managed at Arsenal. Earlier this summer we presented detailed reports to the club on how it can improve its Boardroom to strengthen our football infrastructure.
"The failings we highlighted in Arsene Wenger holding far too much power have only been amplified in recent weeks. These must be addressed as a matter of urgency."
It also called for a review of football functions at the club, stating it’s "urgent" if improvements are to be made.
"Stan Kroenke does not attend many Arsenal matches nor seem to have the time to devote to the affairs of Arsenal. But it is clear to all that football personnel he is ultimately responsible for are failing. The AST calls on him to appoint an independent expert to conduct a review of all football functions at Arsenal. Clearly the interaction between our scouting, negotiating and player purchasing processes are failing and need urgent improvement".
There was also fresh criticism of Kroenke from former director Lady Bracewell-Smith, who claimed she "deeply regrets" allowing the American to take control of the club.
Bracewell-Smith, still an honorary vice-president, sold her shares in Arsenal to Kroenke in 2011 to help to give him a controlling stake.
She has, however, now twice publicly admitted it was a decision she wished she had not made.
"What a shame the board recommended a Kroenke takeover and paid Rothchilds 3m fee," Bracewell-Smith wrote on Twitter.
"And how deeply I regret selling to Kroenke. £AFC."
The outpouring of anger and frustration was not simply because of an opening day defeat, it was the result of a summer which began with talk of big spending and proper investment in the team, and ended with an injury hit, and frankly farcical, playing Aaron Ramsey at centre-half and Lukas Podolski at left back.
Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis spoke openly about the club’s ability to move into a different financial bracket when it came to buying players.
A club that had been doing its shopping in Aldi and Tesco might, at least, be able to do some Marks and Spencer, if not quite Harrods.
"We also have new revenue streams coming on board and all of these things mean we can do some things which would excite you," he said eagerly at the beginning of June. Yet even then the man who was so keen to speak about added a caveat, saying, "What excites Arsene isn’t necessarily what excites you."
At this point it’s hard to know what might excite Arsene Wenger. In his post-Villa press conference, the Arsenal manager was asked about his lack of transfer action in the summer, and not spent a single penny (in fact, he’s made a profit of close to £10m through the sales of Gervinho and Vito Mannone).
"People always say ‘buy players, buy players, buy players’", he said. "When you tell them ‘tell me who?’ it becomes much more problematic."
Everybody likes to play a bit of Championship Manager with their club when it comes to transfer business, but this is a summer in which Stefan Jovetic, Luiz Gustavo, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulino, Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo and others have all moved clubs, all of whom have been well within Arsenal’s price range.
In fact, even the most expensive deal of the summer, Edinson Cavani, is conceivably within their budget (if not their capability). Players like Marouane Fellaini and Asmir Begovic could, with the right will, be prised away from their clubs and make Arsenal better.
Instead, the team with more money than any other in the Premier League has been outspent by almost every other side in England’s top flight. It’s little wonder there’s frustration.
There’s a criticism sometimes leveled at Wenger’s teams, that they want to score the perfect goal. Maybe that translates to the transfer market too: the manager wants to make the perfect signing. The Goldilocks porridge of deals, the one that’s ‘just right’, that sees you get a talent like Santi Cazorla for £12m. But those are the exception, rather than the rule.
On the face of it there’s no good reason why a club like Arsenal, with the resources it has, the cash at hand, and the fantastic potential to kick on and make good on their fourth place finish last season, should have gone through an entire summer without spending.
The opportunity was there to build on what they worked so hard to achieve in the final months of the last campaign. Instead, they’ve let it slip, dropped three points and now the threadbare squad is in difficult shape heading into the Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce.
As fans react the targets are Wenger, Ivan Gazidis, the transfer negotiating team and owner Stan Kroenke. There’s frustration and confusion, mostly because it’s nigh on impossible to understand why Arsenal have done what they’ve done this summer.
They might have their reasons. Perhaps Arsene Wenger can ‘explain it in his next book’, but whatever those reasons, they’ve got it badly wrong.
And we’ve got a decent-looking match in store for you here tonight, as many people’s tip for the title Manchester City take on Newcastle, who have had a, er, ‘eventful’ summer.
There’s going to be plenty of new faces in store at the Eithad tonight, as Manuel Pellegrini takes to the City dugout for the first time with a squad that was furnished with £100m worth of new signings.
No such money floating around the Toon though, who have been slow to bring in new signings, despite the return of the shy and retiring Joe Kinnear. His major transfer coup to date is Loic Remy, who misses out through injury tonight.
Stick with us tonight and we’ll be bringing you all the action and analysis you could shake a stick at.
While Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher try and out-do each other on Sky Sports, we have us some team news.
New boys Navas and Fernandinho start for City, but perhaps the biggest news comes from the Newcastle line-up, as there’s a big Yohan Cabaye-shaped hole on their midfield, follow Arsenal’s bid for the Frenchman.
David Moyes has warned the Premier League Robin van Persie is only going to get better and could even surpass last season’s 30-goal heroics.
Van Persie began the new season with two goals in United’s , on the back of scoring both goals in the 2-0 Community Shield triumph over Wigan.
Moyes said he has been blown away by van Persie’s finishing and overall play since taking charge of and said the 29-year-old Dutchman is driven to win more trophies following his first Premier League success last season.
VanPersie plundered 30 Premier League goals for Arsenal in the 2011-12 season and 25 for United in last season’s title-winning campaign, meaning he is on course for a hat-trick of Golden Boot wins, awarded each year to the league’s top scorer.
Asked if van Persie could surpass his remarkable achievements in his first season at United, Moyes said: "I hope he can.
"His goals [against Swansea] were top goals, those of a top goalscorer, and in ways you can see the different it makes.
"The performance of the team – we can play better – but I thought his finishes made the difference."
Moyes said van Persie, whose only previous trophy in English football was the 2005 FA Cup with Arsenal, is driven to win more titles and silverware before his career comes to an end.
"I said to them [United’s players] the other day, you know, how many medals had they won?" said Moyes.
"Giggsy has won 13, quite a few of them have won five or six and Robin said he’d only won one.
"So for me the challenge is for Robin to keep trying to win medals and I think he’s got it, I think he’s driven to do it.
"He wants to succeed and I’ve been really impressed by him in his training and commitment and in trying to improve himself.
Moyes acknowledged van Persie was one of the best strikers he had worked with, but reserved special mention for his United team-mate Wayne Rooney, despite the England striker remaining determined to quit Old Trafford for Chelsea.
"Look, I worked with Wayne Rooney when he was a 16-year-old boy," said Moyes, when asked whether van Persie was the best forward he’d managed.
"But I’ve got to say at the moment, the way I’ve seen Robin – world-class is sometimes used quite loosely – but I think it’d be hard not to put him in that category, that’s for sure."
Moyes claimed it was not just van Persie’s clinical finishing in front of goal that made him such a formidable striker, but his overall play, in particular his ability to hold the ball up and provide a vital link between midfield and attack.
"Yeah, some of his hold-up play as well," said Moyes when asked what else had impressed him about van Persie.
"We’re talking about his goals but the balls [against Swansea] when we got it into him and his hold-up play and brought people into the game for us as well.
"So he’s got an all round game and we want to keep supplying him and give him every opportunity to score."
United defender Patrice Evra endorsed his manager’s praise of van Persie and admitted he had also been taken aback by the relentless quality of his finishing.
"I keep telling Robin to calm down. I don’t know why he can’t start a little more softly," Evra joked.
"He scored two in the Community Shield and scored two again at Swansea.
"He’s a great player and he’s hungry, he wants to win more trophies."
Despite United’s stunning start in their first competitive game under Moyes since he succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson, Evra tempered the emphatic win with a cautionary note.
"We all know what the manager wants," said Evra. "He wants to win everything and that’s the target.
"We’ve gained some confidence from this result but, as I say, it’s only the first game. It’s just the beginning."