Tuesday 10 December 2019

I am not going back to Old Trafford with Spurs as a villain - Jose

Sacking caused Mourinho to focus on what he can improve on as a manager

Jose Mourinho is ready to face off with the man who replaced him at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Getty
Jose Mourinho is ready to face off with the man who replaced him at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Getty

Matt Law

Jose Mourinho has two pictures from his Manchester United reign hanging in his Tottenham Hotspur office, one of him with the Europa League trophy and the other holding the Carabao Cup. The message to those who enter is that Mourinho was a winner at Old Trafford, and he was keen to echo that ahead of his first managerial return to his former club.

It may not have been the Premier League title or the Champions League, but Mourinho insisted that his two and a half years at United were a success and that he would not go back with Tottenham tonight as a "villain" or an "enemy".

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He claims to have been happy at United and justified living in the Lowry Hotel for the duration of his time in Manchester by saying that he would have been "unhappy" in a house where he would have been forced to live on sausages and fried eggs, the two foods he can cook.

"About my history there, go to my office upstairs and I still have a couple of pictures of my Manchester United time," Mourinho said. "One with the Europa League and my son in Stockholm, and one with the Carabao Cup at the top of Wembley. Of course, they are my most cherished memories.

"No regrets. I won and I learned. I met my assistants, we analysed everything and it was in a very positive, constructive way. I forbid them in the analysis to blame anyone else but us. Focus on us. Don't focus on the club, don't focus on the players, focus just on us. What could we do better, what can we do better in the future, where we have to improve? It was very constructive.

Learn

"The point is you win or you learn, you don't lose. So I feel that. It was good because I managed to win something, some nice things and do some nice things. On the opposite side, I learned and I think I'm a better coach now than when I was there."

Mourinho retained the support of large sections of United fans right up to the point he was sacked last December and insists he has maintained good relationships with club officials, as he claims to have done at previous clubs.

"I'm not a villain, I'm not an enemy but I am the coach trying to win against Manchester United - that's how they [the fans] are going to look at me," Mourinho said.

Explaining how he believed he remained on good terms with former clubs, Mourinho failed to mention anybody at Chelsea. It was unclear whether it was simply an oversight or a demonstration of how his Stamford Bridge legacy has been tarnished.

"With me, it's about the fans but also about the people that I worked with," he said.

"The fact I can get on my phone and speak with Richard Arnold (United managing director), the fact Ed Woodward (executive vice-chairman) can call me to wish me good luck.

"The fact the kitchen man, chef, calls me to ask how I am. This kind of thing, I had it at every club and that for me is the best thing. The thing that is more important than the coach, who can be good, bad or so-so.

"You have relations with people and for me this is a very important thing. Christmas, for sure, on the phone will be Ed Woodward, Florentino Perez (Real Madrid president), Massimo Moratti (ex-Inter Milan owner) and Pinto da Costa (Porto president). All of them will be on the phone with me. Whether you win, lose, successful or not successful, we created this. That's the important thing for me, that's the way it is."

United were sixth in the Premier League table, 19 points behind then leaders Liverpool when Mourinho was sacked last year. Twelve months on, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team are ninth and 22 points behind Jurgen Klopp's side.

But asked if United had been too hasty to dismiss him, Mourinho said: "I don't know. They are decisions that the clubs make and as managers we just have to accept. From my experience, especially this one now, the important thing is that, after you're sacked you don't blame anyone. You try to understand why, you try to understand what you could do better, try to prepare better for the future by analysing what happened in the past. That is what happened with me."

Mourinho is no longer having to live in a hotel, as he can return to his London home or stay at the Spurs training ground when he does not want to battle through traffic. But the Portuguese defended his decision to remain in the Lowry while in charge of United by saying: "You know how I would be unhappy? I would be unhappy if I was in a house on my own.

"I would have to clean, I don't want to. I would have to iron, I don't know how to. I have to cook, I would cook fried eggs and sausages - that's the only thing I can do. I would be very unhappy.

"I lived in an amazing apartment, it was not a room. It was mine all the time, it was not like after one week I had to leave. No, it was mine. I left everything there, I had my television, my books, my computer. It was a flat, with 'bring me a coffee latte, please' or 'I don't want to go down for dinner, bring my dinner up'.

"I was watching football or doing work with one of my assistants and I would ask, 'Bring us food'. I had everything, if I was in an apartment alone it would be much more difficult. I was fine, more than fine." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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