JOSE MOURINHO can prove beyond doubt Manchester United were wrong to sack him if he avoids defeat on his return to Old Trafford tomorrow night.
The Special One blew kisses to adoring Red Devils supporters when he went back to the Theatre of Dreams in October as a pundit for the first time since being axed.
He is still loved, is Mourinho.
But behind the smiles is no doubt a sinister desire to prove his old employers pulled the trigger too quickly.
If Mourinho’s resurgent Tottenham side – with 10 goals in three games – can manage just a draw, it will mean under-fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be guaranteed to have a worse record than Mourinho did when he was sacked.
In 17 games last season, Mourinho managed just 26 points.
After 14 games this campaign, Solskjaer has amassed 18.
At the time of writing, United are closer to the relegation spots than the top four, but sit only two points behind fifth-placed Tottenham in ninth.
If Spurs – looking for their third win in a row in all competitions – can manage a draw against United then Solskjaer’s men cannot get more than 25 points after 17 games.
That’s one fewer than Mourinho had when he was sacked.
Even if United can win their next three Premier League matches – something they haven’t done since the end of December last year – they will be on 27 points.
The Norwegian was defiant in his pre-match press conference today but that came before reports emerged saying former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is targeting the United job ahead of Arsenal.
Mourinho, of course, wants nothing more than to rub his old team’s face in it.
Mourinho has gone into battle against his former teams 32 times and lost just eight games while winning 18.
But is from Nelson Mandela that he has found inspiration ahead of taking on United.
Speaking about his time in the north, Jose quoted the late South African president and civil rights icon.
He said: “This is a closed chapter for me. I left the club, I took my time to process everything that happened. I took my time to prepare myself for the next challenge.
“United for me is in my book of experiences.
“A bit like [Nelson] Mandela was saying, ‘You never lose, you win or you learn’.
“At United I won and I learned. My time after I left was a good time for me.”
And on going back to Old Trafford, Mourinho added: “I have a great relationship with the Manchester United supporters. I went back as a pundit and I was humbled by such a beautiful reception.
“Tomorrow I go back as the coach of the team that will try and beat Manchester United.
“I understand that what they want is the exact opposite of what I want.
“During the match I expect them to forget me.”