Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan believes Chelsea owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jose Mourinho for putting them on the footballing map.
The Uruguayan, who spent two years at United and built up something of a cult hero status at Old Trafford despite some inconsistent performances, says Mourinho should get a warm reception by his old fans when the two teams meet this weekend.
This is the Portuguese’s first return to Stamford Bridge since Chelsea sacked him last December, and Forlan has recalled quite how much he turned the Blues’ fortunes around when he first took over in 2004.
‘”Chelsea are a small club, nothing like as big as Liverpool or Arsenal,” my captain Roy Keane and other Manchester United players explained when I asked them about Chelsea,’ Forlan wrote in his column for The National.
‘In my time at United, Chelsea were bought by Roman Abramovich and would go on to become one of the strongest teams in the world. Jose Mourinho would also take charge just before I left England. He had become a hero there, taking a “small club” and making them champions of England for the first time in 50 years.
‘Mourinho is loved by Chelsea and can expect a good reception when he returns with his new club – United – on Sunday, even though he is trying to defeat the club who sacked him a year ago.
‘Chelsea fans would probably prefer he was not at United. He achieved so much at Chelsea, winning the league in both of his spells there. That is why they will welcome him at Stamford Bridge.’