Frank Lampard has no doubts over Jose Mourinho's elite credentials as he prepares to face his old boss in Derby County's EFL Cup trip to Manchester United.
United's mixed start to the season continued at the weekend as Wolves claimed a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Mourinho's capacity to rouse a Premier League title challenge and his relationship with key players, such as Paul Pogba, have come under the microscope.
But Lampard, who is taking his first steps in management with Derby having starred under Mourinho during his Chelsea days, believes United's two trophies under the Portuguese in 2016-17 show his enduring capabilities.
"When you’re the manager of Manchester United, when you have the CV and the background of Jose Mourinho – and this is not ancient history, this is fresh history, the Europa League, the League Cup – then of course you have it," he told reporters.
"In terms of the 'special one' and that, those are just words. In terms of being a great manager, of course he is."
Mourinho famously dubbed himself "a special one" during his initial news conference at Chelsea in 2004 before leading the club to back-to-back Premier League title triumphs.
"I saw it and I liked it. It was something different," Lampard recalled.
"British culture is not to walk in and call yourself the 'special one', I don't think.
"That's the way he was and I admired him for it and actually, if you make those statements, you had better back them up, and he certainly did."
Aside from such bombast, it was the personal touch from Mourinho that made an impression with Lampard – even after he had left Stamford Bridge.
"He's strong on family. He was always like that as a manager," he added.
"He was fantastic for me when I lost my mother actually. He was at Inter at the time and he was ringing me regularly. And it's things like that you don't forget.
"Whether he's managing here or there, and you see what's in the press, you actually remember the person, and those little things he did with me were very special."
|Sevilla don´t fear Messi or Barca – Kjaer|
|Conte, Zidane and the AC Milan contenders clouding Gattuso´s future|
|Koepka in control in South Korea, on track to become world number one|
|Dovizioso grabs pole at Motegi, Marquez sixth|
|Langer backs Marsh for ODI squad|
|Butler turns boos to MVP chants in Timberwolves´ first win|
|Brewers force game seven against Dodgers in NLCS|
|Guardiola admits Hart decision may have been a mistake|
|Vieira: Balotelli the same now as he was at 16|
|Butragueno backs under-fire Lopetegui|
|Liverpool´s defensive improvement has hurt attack – Klopp|
|Butler booed by Timberwolves fans during introductions|
|Pochettino: Dier´s Ramos tackle highlighted Spurs´ attitude|
|Man City working on new deal for Sane – Guardiola|
|Golden Knights sign RW Tuch to seven-year extension|
|Bryant explains how Lakers could beat Warriors|
|Finals hopefuls Isner, Fognini into Stockholm semis|
|Browns trade running back Hyde to Jaguars|
|Mourinho: I´d love to have Hazard at Manchester United|
|Hamilton´s title chances enhanced by Vettel´s grid penalty|
|Deja vu for Enisei as La Rochelle inflict another thrashing|
|Five-star Jovic makes Bundesliga history|
|Liverpool´s scoring slump no concern for cautious Klopp|
|He´s the Special One - Sarri insists he is not on Mourinho´s level yet|
|Second-half blitz guides Leicester to European success|
|Sheffield Wednesday 1 Middlesbrough 2: Besic, Assombalonga see off Owls|
|Goerges rallies to reach Luxembourg Open final, Jabeur makes history|
|Howe: Transfer speculation will not disrupt Ake|
|´Do we really want opera every night?´ - Klopp not changing Nations League view|
|Vile and abhorrent – Chelsea´s Carney responds to online abuse|
|Giants WR Beckham Jr. explains why he might cramp up: ´I really don´t like water´|
|Man City pay training-pitch tribute to Joe Hart|
|Neymar to be rested as Tuchel rubbishes Ballon d´Or concerns|
|Sarri ´not interested´ in Christensen father´s quit threat|
|Cardinals fire offensive coordinator McCoy after 1-6 start|
|Neymar return unlikely, but anything can happen – Valverde|
|Bairstow a doubt for fourth ODI|
|Manchester United fined for late arrival and delayed kick-off against Valencia|
|Australia-Pakistan chat not ´especially polite´ - Sarfraz|
|Pogba relishing ´pressure game´ against in-form Hazard|
|Don´t bet on Cardiff survival, warns Warnock|
|Buffon enjoying Tuchel´s methods at PSG|
|RIP to Wimbledon epics! Isner feels like The Undertaker following final-set tie-break rule|
|Sevilla performance sealed Bernat´s Bayern exit - Hoeness|
|Keita set to miss out as Liverpool monitor injured stars|
|He didn´t want to be here – Guardiola doubts Sancho will return to Manchester City|
|Sarri: Manchester United are the best in the Premier League|
|Mourinho salutes ´brave´ Shaw for ´best possible´ response to criticism|
|No Ballon d´Or distractions for Griezmann, insists Simeone|
|Wigan stand by Hardaker as full-back prepares to undergo rehabilitation|
|Barcelona deny Neymar talk|
|Hazard can win the Ballon d´Or as a Chelsea player, insists Sarri|
|De Bruyne in contention to start in Manchester City´s clash with Burnley|
|Neymar needs to mature to reach Messi levels - Xavi|
|We have a hell of a lot to do - Paine slams Australia batting|
|Kerber and Osaka to meet at WTA Finals|
|Lorenzo out of Japanese MotoGP|
|Real Madrid handed Africa trip in Copa del Rey|
|Allegri: Ronaldo has sharpened Juventus focus|
|No Wade in Wasps squad amid NFL reports|
|Rooney: Five of us controlled Man United dressing room|
|Bayern bosses launch scathing attack on ´disrespectful´ media|
|Saints lock in Lawes to new deal|
|Adelaide United 1 Sydney 1: Debutant Le Fondre rescues a point|
|Madrid can´t look back, only forward - Lopetegui confident of revival|
|Wimbledon to introduce final-set tie-breaks|
|Abbas inspires Pakistan to series victory|
|Madrid boss Lopetegui hopeful on Bale availability|
|Mood is positive at Bayern, insists under-pressure Kovac|
|LeBron offers food for thought after losing Lakers debut|