Friday 17 November 2017

Mourinho: I'm a better coach now than ever before

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Simon Stone

Jose Mourinho believes he is better prepared to succeed as Chelsea boss second time around.

Mourinho did well enough in his first stint at Stamford Bridge, including two Premier League titles in his five-trophy haul.

However, his confrontational nature did not meet with the approval of the Chelsea hierarchy and in the end, the schism with owner Roman Abramovich became so wide time had to be called on their relationship.

Since then though, Mourinho has had a fabulous stint at Inter Milan, steering the Italian giants to an unprecedented treble, as well as three seasons with Real Madrid, where he added another league title to his impressive list of honours.

And the early evidence is this is a much calmer version of the Portuguese firebrand who has captivated English audiences since he burst onto the scene with a dance down the Old Trafford touchline in celebration of a famous triumph with Porto almost a decade ago.

So, within a matter of hours of touching down in Bangkok at the start of a three-match tour of the Far East, Mourinho was explaining why he feels he has improved.

"My job is a job where experience means a lot," said Mourinho.

"I have had two years in Italy and three in Spain. It makes me better coach. I am in better condition than I was last time.

"I have some white hairs but in my case that's a good sign. It means I am better now than before.

"But I am still very sad and unhappy when my team doesn't win, it's up to the players to help me get the results I want."

Mourinho has already had an impact, sanctioning the previously agreed transfer of Andre Schurrle, completing a surprise swoop for veteran Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in addition to completing the capture of a player he has high hopes for, Marco van Ginkel.

"Marco is one of the best prospects in European football right now," said Mourinho.

"I have been following him for a long time. He has great potential. We do not have to press him too much in the beginning because we want to help him settle into the Premier League.

"Chelsea is investing in the long term and this kid has a great future."

Mourinho has also been linked with a possible move for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney who today flew out of Bangkok, where United have also been stationed, hours before Chelsea arrived after scans revealed a hamstring injury will keep him out for a month.

Conspiracy theorists have leapt on Rooney's departure as evidence his future at Old Trafford is limited given the forward is still to offer any indication that he wants to stay, despite United's repeated claims the 27-year-old is not for sale.

Whilst Mourinho accepted etiquette dictates that he should not discuss other clubs' players, the Blues boss could not resist.

He said: "I cannot speak about players from other teams but you know me...

"I have always said what I think and I like the player very much.

"I cannot say more than that. He is fast and direct. I like him but he is a Manchester United player."

Chelsea's arrival in Thailand marks the start of their preparations for a campaign in which many feel they will exploit the changes at Manchester United and Manchester City and land only their second championship since Mourinho left in 2006.

The uncertainty at Stamford Bridge is not with the manager, but rather his willingness to embrace the Barcelona-style tiki-taka which Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard can so obviously provide.

As the former duo are not on the trip, given additional time off due to their Confederations Cup commitments with Spain and Brazil respectively, it will be impossible to gauge over the next fortnight.

However, experienced keeper Petr Cech is taking nothing for granted.

"It is very difficult to predict what is going to happen before the season has even started," he said.

"They are all great teams who have kept their players together and improved them by buying some more players.

"Although they have new managers, the teams are the same.

"And there is new motivation with a new manager, so they can be more dangerous."

Chelsea confirmed this afternoon that Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu would return to his homeland with Valencia on a season-long loan.

Romeu joins the likes of Marko Marin, Thibaut Courtois and Patrick van Aanholt in penning temporary moves away from west London but Romelu Lukaku, who impressed whilst on loan at West Brom last year, is still likely to remain a member of Mourinho's squad.

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