Saturday 14 December 2019

Mourinho seduces Tottenham fans with promise of European romance

Changing lanes: Jose Mourinho has tarnished his legacy at Chelsea by admitting he used to be jealous of the support Spurs received. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Changing lanes: Jose Mourinho has tarnished his legacy at Chelsea by admitting he used to be jealous of the support Spurs received. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Matt Law

It took Jose Mourinho 65 seconds to remind the packed room that he had won the Champions League twice and a further 27 seconds to make sure everyone knew he had never been eliminated in the group stages.

By the end of the press conference, which lasted for half an hour, he had put another nail in his Chelsea legacy by claiming that he used to be jealous of the support the Tottenham Hotspur fans gave their side.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

He even went further, promising to make sure his new club would never again have to fear facing Europe's giants.

As chat-up lines go, Mourinho pretty much hit Spurs supporters with everything they wanted to hear ahead of his first home game in charge and his return to Europe's biggest stage.

Tottenham can maintain Mourinho's record of always having reached the knockout stages by beating Olympiacos at their new London home tonight.

Finalists

Mauricio Pochettino had described the prospect of winning the Champions League with Spurs as ‘a miracle’. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Mauricio Pochettino had described the prospect of winning the Champions League with Spurs as ‘a miracle’. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

The Portuguese made it clear that if anyone could take last season's beaten finalists one step further, then of course it was him.

In reply to a fairly innocuous opening question over how Spurs could do in the competition, Mourinho replied: "It's something that everybody dreams about, to win it, and not everyone has the privilege to be a Champions League winner which I was happy enough to do twice.

"Do I want to win it a third time? Of course, I would love it but I know the difficulties of it.

"And, at this moment, it is not the moment to speak about it. It is the moment to qualify. I think it is my 148th game and I think one of the reasons why my teams were never out in the group phase was exactly because we always thought about the group phase and we never thought about what could happen after that."

Former manager Mauricio Pochettino had described the prospect of winning the Champions League with Tottenham as "a miracle" ahead of last season's final against Liverpool in Madrid.

Mourinho would, without doubt, have no problem with us describing him as a miracle worker. However, on this occasion he was more intent on whispering sweet nothings about creating a winning culture into the ears of the trophy-starved Spurs fans.

"I would change 'miracle' to 'very difficult'," said Mourinho. "I would not use the word 'miracle', although probably I have done in the past - managers do that.

"There are some teams with a different culture of victory.

"There are clubs and teams with a different potential, experience and know-how.

"But with these boys, I will never be afraid of any Champions League match.

"I repeat, we need to qualify, that is the focus. I always say that. Not even in the last 16 did I used to think about winning the trophy. Only in the quarter-finals.

"At the moment, I think we are still far from it. But give me time to work, give me time to float my ideas with these boys and I will have no problem at all going to any stadium at all to face any big opponent in Europe or in England. We are not going to be afraid of anybody."

If that was exactly what the Tottenham supporters wanted to hear, then they would have been flattered to listen to Mourinho saying he used to be jealous when he came up against them with his former employers, Chelsea.

Asked about his memories of the old White Hart Lane and his excitement at managing Spurs in their new stadium, the former Chelsea manager said: "I played there many times, obviously as an opponent. I did it with three different clubs. I won, I lost, I drew, I always loved it.

"There are a few stadiums where you always enjoy the atmosphere, you always envy the support that your opponent, in this case, has. Many times I played there, I felt envy of such a strong and passionate support.

"I've been in the new stadium as a football lover, for Spurs against Newcastle, and I felt the atmosphere and the game was not good for us.

"But I felt the relation between the fans and the team, and the pride for that new home because in the end you always miss your old home. But if you change for better, or for much better, you don't miss it so much and you embrace your new home.

"I think that's what happened with the fans. I think they love the team, love the club, love the stadium and I believe that tomorrow can be the restart of that empathy between the supporters and the team."

Mourinho, too, wants to be loved. He could barely have been less subtle if he had simply declared: "Get your coats Spurs fans, you've pulled." (© The Daily Telegraph)

Tottenham v Olympiacos BT Sport 2 and Virgin Media 2, 8.0

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Telegraph.co.uk

The Left Wing: John Cooney on Ulster's European run and bouncing back from World Cup disappointment

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport