Jose Mourinho has held his first press conference since being re-appointed as manager of Chelsea. Here’s the full transcript of what he had to say…
We all remember your first press conference. Are you still a special one?
‘I’m the happy one. Time wise, it looks like it was a couple of days ago, but it was nine years ago. Since then, a lot of things have happened in my professional life and I have the same nature. I’m the same person. I have the same heart and the same kind of emotions related to my passion for football and my job. But I’m of course a different person. In this moment, if I have to describe myself, I describe myself as a very happy person. You know, it’s the first time I arrive in a club where I already love the club because, before, I was arriving and I had to do the emotional relation. I only came to love the club in time. This is a new feeling, arriving at a club where I love it already.’
You won five major trophies in three seasons here. Can you do better this time?
In football you never know, but I want to believe it’s possible. I always trust my work. In this case, I know many of the people that belong to the club, and I know the kind of mentality and ambition people have. My career was built and based on success, and I was able to reach success and to win trophies, and to leave different kinds of legacies. So I have to believe in that. That’s a normal message I want to go with my players, which is work hard, work with quality. The club is much more important than ourselves. We are nobody compared to the club. Working well, success normally arrives.’
You fell out with Roman Abramovich. How did the relationship get patched up?
‘That’s not true, as a start. That’s not true. I read and I kept listening I was fired, I was sacked, we had a complete break of relationships. That was not true. Many people didn’t believe in that, but it was mutual agreement. At the time we thought it was best for both of us, me and the club. It was a sad moment. Of course it was a sad moment, but I don’t regret that decision. I went to Inter where I had probably the best moment of my career. After that I went to Madrid where we had, still, the record of the best team in Spanish history. For Chelsea, things went well too. After that, Chelsea was for the first time European champions. So it was a difficult decision at that time for both of us, but a decision made by mutual agreement. Only because there was never a break of a relation, it’s possible I’m here today. It wouldn’t be possible being here if we’d had real problems, no relations. I’m back because we feel we are in a moment of my professional life – and in the case of the owner also a moment of his career as an owner – where we are probably in the best moment of our careers, and ready to work together again and with much better conditions this time to succeed and have what this club wants: which is stability.’
‘Ready to marry again,’ you said. What signs are there from Abramovich that love will be sweeter?
‘I think one of the points for me is that, and probably you are not so happy with that, is that my relation with the owner has to be private. What we discuss has to be private. Not just with him, also with the board. I think that privacy is crucial. The point is we all want the same. We are in the same direction. It’s a moment where I think maturity, very good feelings, the same perspective for the future of the club. My area is the sports area, the football area, but more and more you have to be deeply connected with other areas in the club. I think we have the same kind of vision. I’m more than happy to follow this philosophy that we want for the team, and I’m more than happy to be back. I’m very calm, very relaxed, but at the same time there’s something I want very clear: I didn’t choose for my career a comfortable position because I’m returning to a house where I was happy and successful and where the fans love me. No. I’m coming with exactly the opposite perspective. I have more responsibility because of that. The expectations are higher because people know what I can deliver. I want to give you that message. I know this club has a special fan base. We are a special club exactly because people never forget the professionals that gave the maximum for this club in the past. I want to be respected for what I did in the past for this club, but I want to be loved for what I can do from now. The club knows my mentality, my nature, and the fans can be sure I come here to give my best and to try and reach success.’
Have you been affected by what happened in Spain?
‘If I have to choose a nickname for this period, I’d choose ‘the happy one’ because I’m very happy. Time flies. I was two years at Inter, three years at Madrid, five years in a managerial career is a long, long time. Football is an industry that demands a lot from yourself, and you learn a lot every day. Back in 2000 when I was managing for the first time, I thought I knew everything. After 13 years, you realise you knew nothing and you have to learn every day. My adventure around Europe was fantastic for me. England, Italy and Spain, different cultures, mentalities, players, leagues, tactics, media, different everything. It was a fantastic period for me. At 50, I think I’m still very young as a manager and I think it was like the beginning of a new period. Do I have a different personality? For sure, no. But will I have a different approach and way of looking at things? Again, I repeat. I’m the same personality, same nature, but a different perspective.”
It sounds like you are more mellow, calmer?
‘Calmer? I believe so. I believe so. You have to learn with experiences. Sometimes people speak about older people in a negative way. I didn’t arrive yet there, but experience in life is something very, very important, especially if you visit in the right way. In football, I analyse myself every day as a manager, as a leader, as a member of a club. I try to learn and try to improve. So I’m the same, but nine years is a big difference. When I arrived here in 2004 you pushed me a lot in that first press conference to have a strong approach, and in this moment the situation is different. You know me. You know my history in the British game, and the European game, so I don’t think I need that approach. I just want to be calm and to be working every day to do the best I can. I think I’m in the best moment of my career in terms of knowledge and experience. I feel very calm and comfortable. I’m just so sorry that pre-season doesn’t start tomorrow.’
Do you enjoy this (the media conferences)?
‘I don’t love this, but it’s part of my job. I have to try and do it. I try to give what you want, but I can’t always give you a good line. I try to be honest and try and give you what you’re expecting from me at this moment. But what I really want to do is work. Many of the questions I believe you have for me will be based on this. So please let’s do it fast and let me go.’
Do you want more stability?
‘Yes, and now I’m prepared for that. Before I wasn’t. I had always this kind of mentality. Today’s June 10, Portuguese Day, a day of Portugal. I am Portuguese. I always love adventure, like Portuguese ones in the past. I was always a bit of a navigator, but I did always what I wanted to do. I needed a special family, which I have. They gave me the stability to go around Europe, to live in Italy, Spain, England, Portugal, to change, to pack, to change again, to do what I was doing as a professional. I wanted to do that in the three most important leagues and clubs. I wanted the experience. People who don’t do that have other good things, but the culture in football is very important for a manager. I wanted to experience that. For seven or eight months, I wanted to go where I really like it very, very much. And I was in a position to say which one was the league, the club, the mentality I prefer. I can’t say which press I prefer, but you’re not the worst. Now it’s up to me to show I deserve to be here for a long time. I have a contract for four years. I hope to go the last day of that contract. If the club then wants me to stay, I’ll be more than happy.’
When did you decided to come back to Chelsea?
‘To Chelsea, not a long time ago. First of all I decided I was going to leave my previous club. That was the trigger. I had to make that decision. After that, it was a question of analysing the situation, the possibilities, and making a decision that was the best for my happiness. So when the Chelsea situation appeared really, and strongly: decision made.’
Some old faces in the dressing room you know well, do you want to add new ones in next few weeks?
‘No. Of course, there are still a few boys from my time, which is always good to go back and see these people who gave absolutely everything to me when I was here. But it’s important to tell you – not them, because they know – that no privilege for them. They know my nature. They don’t have an advantage in relation to the other people. After that, Chelsea did very well to get these young boys with great potential, great ability and a great future, and I look forward to trying to improve them. We have ambitions to add a couple of new players to improve the squad, increase the competitiveness, but my biggest job at the moment is the round improvement of the boys. Big potential. I have ambitions as a manager and as a leader to improve the boys. I’m more than happy to help them.’
Is it a new Premier League you return to?
‘I’m still a bit disappointed to be back and going to Old Trafford and Sir Alex isn’t there. As a manager, I’m a bit disappointed. But David has experience and protection by the club to do his job and do it well. Wenger is there and I’m happy he is. And the three boys – not boys any more, but when I say boys I say in the right way, with the right feeling – Brendan, Steven and Andre, I’m more than happy not to play against them – Chelsea plays against Liverpool, Tottenham and West Brom, but I’m more than happy to be in the same league as them and to wish them all the best. Pellegrini is also a manager with great experience, many years in the same league. It’s the first time he moves here, but he has maturity and experience to do a good job. I look forward to what the Premier League is. I was, in the last three years, playing in a two-horse race. Now I move to a league where you lose more times, lose more points, but the competition is open. It’s not just the two.’
It’s a four-year contract. Does that equal stability?
‘Of course we look for stability. I look, the club looks. I had desires for new challenges in the past, but in this moment I’m in a completely another direction. When you see the profile of the squad: if you want the best education for 22-25-year-old players, they need stability. The club is stable. It has a fantastic structure. I find a much better club in many areas, but they also need stability in football areas: game principles, [missed bit in here], and the only way to build success again is with stability. I know the personality and the profile of the other people, the Lampards, Terrys, Cechs who worked with me previously, and they have great quality in football terms. They are very important for the balance and the development of the younger players. We are pulling in the same direction, the owner, the board, me, and the players will be happy if we can give them that stability. It’s what I need in this moment of my career.’
Which competition is the priority?
‘Chelsea have to focus in every competition. We cannot say this one is more important than another. Everything is important. By having, I think, 108 Champions League matches and so many consecutive seasons in Champions League competition, I learned that not just the details make the difference, but also that sometimes it’s not when you’re team is in the best moment that you win. Sometimes you win and you don’t know really why you do, and sometimes you play well and you lose and don’t know why. Champions League cannot be an obsession for me. I’ve won it twice, and would be happy to win it again, but Chelsea have won it too. So it’s not an obsession. Let’s work, with quality and work hard, and we’ll be there fighting for that objective. One day it will happen. Sooner than later is better. The Premier League is different, a competition the best team wins. Let’s try to be the best, but you know that another five teams also want to be the best.’
You had a high-profile fallout with Iker Casillas, what have you learnt from that experience?
‘What happened last season? I’m sorry, I play the players I think are the best for the team. Of course I want good relations with everybody, but the most important is having good relations with myself. As a manager, I have to be honest with myself. If I think somebody deserves to play, he has to play. If someone has big stature, profile and career, I cannot give him a privilege. It was simply a pure footballing decision. I decided for one player and not the other, and it’s up for the players to accept it or not, and the media and supporters to accept it or not. But, as a manager, all my decisions are based on meritocracy. Is that an English word? I try to do it from the Portuguese. After that, I can sleep well.’
John Terry is captain, but he was sidelined by Benitez. What did you think of that?
‘One of my good qualities – I have some bad ones – is that I don’t speak about a club when I leave it, and when I arrive at one I don’t like to comment on what happened before me. For me, not one word about Benitez’s decisions, either on John or another player. What I can say is about the future, and the future is to meet John in the first week of July, try to get the best out of him. I know what he can give. I try to get the best, let’s try to make him again a very important player that he couldn’t be last season. But Benitez’s decisions are Benitez’s decisions.’
You sound more humble. But will it be easier to win the title this season?
‘I’m humble. Sometimes it doesn’t look like I am, but I am. In 2004, Arsenal were the power. They’d won the league without losing and were an absolutely fantastic team, and us and United were trying to go there. Now the picture is different. United are the champions. Man City were the champions before – they were not a team able to do that in my time here before. Now you have Arsenal and Tottenham coming up, Liverpool with Brendan will be there for sure. So this competition starts with everyone trying to finish top four, then top three which is better than top four, then to try and win it. We go step by step. The first objective will be top four. The second top three, then to be champions.’
Were your feelings hurt that you weren’t offered a job by United or City?
(Smiles) ‘I am where I want to be. I wouldn’t change it for anything.Is this a better job than City or United?‘It’s my job. The job I want. It’s a job I was offered and I accepted immediately.’
Andres Iniesta said you’ve damaged Spanish football? Do you have any regrets?
‘I damaged Spanish football by being the manager that broke Barcelona dominance. They were dominant, and dominant, and dominant, and it looked like a dominance without an end. Real Madrid won a cup final against Barcelona, Real Madrid won the Super Cup against Barcelona, Real Madrid won in Barcelona, and Real Madrid won the championship, which is the historic championship of 100 points and 121 goals. I hurt them, I hurt them. It was a fantastic time for me, reaching what I wanted to reach: the three domestic titles I didn’t have in my career. We couldn’t get the CL, which was our ambition, but it’s very difficult to do that. You never know when you can do that. It was so difficult at Madrid: when I arrived they’d not even been to a quarter-final for six years, but we got into the semis. We couldn’t win it. Other teams did. I’m happy Chelsea and Bayern did it. And I can say, with pride, that I managed a big club like Real.’
Did Roman make a mistake when you left?
‘We decided together. We had a fantastic period, made history, made Chelsea champions which was fantastic for the owner. He bought the club in 2003 and we were champions in 2004/05, so it was the best thing that could happen to a recent owner. The fans had been waiting for that for 50 years. For me, a young manager arriving in a football country like England, to win it in the first season was fantastic. We had a mutual decision, no regrets, so it was a fair decision for both.’
Arsene Wenger is only remaining manager from last time and you said you were pleased he is still here. But how close can Arsenal push you in title race?
‘I’m happy he’s there, of course I am. It’s because he wants to be and the club wants him to be. If the players and fans stick together, it’s fantastic. By not winning a major trophy in the last years, it shows even better how connected they are. I’m more than happy with that. It’s a great example for a football club. I’m more than happy.’
Paulo Ferreira gone. No Portuguese members of the side?
‘Paulo is finishing his contract. He’s been here since 2004 and it’s maybe time for him to think about something else. We’ll see what happens. I’d not thought about that, but I don’t think it’s something I need to dwell on.’
Are you pleased to be here?
‘I’m happy to be back in this club, in this league and this city. I can control my emotions better now, whether that is in victory or in defeat.’
What are the futures of Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku?
‘First of all I want to meet them. I think it’s fair that the players are the first ones to know about their future, and to know about their future by their manager, by their club, and not by the media. I’m not just speaking in relation to Kevin or Romelu. I’m speaking generally. I’ve had the chance to speak with some of them. Others I didn’t. I need to speak with them, meet them, we need to feel and make a decision that’s the best for me as a manager, the players, and most importantly for Chelsea. Chelsea are more important than me and the players. But, as you are Belgian and I don’t want you to go home without a little answer, they are the type of players Chelsea have invested a lot into in the past, and it’s my work to extract the best from those investments. Both of them are ready to come and be ready for my squad.’
What qualities have made Chelsea winners? What needs to be done to get back to winning major titles?
‘I think I came in two different periods. When I came, Chelsea needed that. Chelsea needed the last push in the direction of the trophies, in the direction of success. A new owner, big investment, the age of the players was perfect for that jump of quality, and I felt in my first approach that the squad and the club needed that direction. And I think we did it well by winning. Probably, I don’t know as I’m not the best person to judge, even after my departure that base stayed in the club and probably helped them to reach more success in the future. If that happened, I’m more than happy. It’s the job of the manager not just to focus on what you do when you’re here, but on the legacy and contribution you leave for the future. This time I arrive and victory and silverware is nothing new in the club. The club is a Champions League winner. The club won the Premier League again after my time, won more FA Cups. The club was in the top and getting trophies. In this moment, it’s a moment for a different approach. Not losing my nature, which is the nature of the club too – trying to win is not just my nature, but that of the club too – and Mr Abramovich too. I think we are all prepared for a different era with a different profile of team. As I was saying, I’m more than happy. My fingerprint has to be… a football team without the fingerprint of its manager is never a football team, even if it looks like it is. We want an identity even more present.’
Which areas need improvement? Attack, defence, bigger squad?
‘I have to start working with them. Even the players I’ve already worked with, the ones I think I know in every aspect, even these ones are not the same. Time changes people, changes players, changes qualities: improving some, losing others. Even that group of five or six boys from my time here, I need to meet them again. Imagine the others. I think I know them, because I watch them on tv maybe 20 times every season minimum, but I don’t know them. I’ll only know them when I meet them and work with them. That’s the first part of the job. It’s not to arrive here and say: “Mr Abramovich, members of the board, I need some money with a lot of zeros, I need to change half the team, move this one and buy this one.” We have 60 players because there are 20 new buys in the media already. No, I need to work with the players, not commit injustice, give them a chance, be fair with them. After that, we’ll have time to make decisions. A couple of signings is normal, correct practice in every club.’
What are your weaknesses?
‘If I speak of them, I have to say I’m trying to improve them. You don’t speak about weaknesses with your enemy, and my enemy will read the papers and watch television. We hide our weaknesses. Every player, manager has weaknesses. You have to try to hide them. So I’m not giving that chance for the enemy… with respect because, in sports, an enemy is not really an enemy. I know my weaknesses, not much… not many… but I try to improve and hide them.’