Roberto Mancini may well be at a loose end tomorrow, even if Galatasaray knock Chelsea out of the Champions League this evening.
The Galatasaray manager said last night that he would happily take Jose Mourinho out to dinner if his side overcome Chelsea and reach the quarter-finals. They would certainly have much to talk about – the change in ownership at their former club Internazionale, the challenges of coaching Didier Drogba, Wesley Sneijder and Mario Balotelli.
Mourinho, though, did not give the idea much consideration when asked about it last night. Would he be at all interested? “No.”
Why not? “Because I have no interest. Tomorrow I won’t have a meal with somebody who has the same job as I do, and the only thing we have in common is the fact we’re both football managers.” Gary Cahill was asked too, but politely declined.
Mancini could be forgiven for wondering whether he deserves slightly more recognition in his first game back in England since his dismissal last May. “For me it is a good moment, the memories of England,” he said on Tuesday night. “I did a good job at Manchester City and I’m happy to play this game because, first of all, it’s here in London. And secondly because it’s in the Champions League.”
While City have moved on quickly from his dismissal, winning the League Cup and chasing hard for the Premier League title, so has Mancini, taking over Turkey’s biggest side and guiding them through a Champions League group including Real Madrid, Juventus and Copenhagen. Galatasaray have slipped behind fierce rivals Fenerbahce in the Turkish league, despite their star power in Drogba, Sneijder and Burak Yilmaz, leaving Europe as the main way Mancini can make an impression this season.
The Italian does not have much of a track record in the Champions League but he is pleased to be in the knockout rounds, and knows that beating Chelsea tonight would be a special achievement.
“I think that we did a miracle in the group because it was really difficult to go through from that group,” Mancini said.
“Now we are here, we know it’s really difficult because Chelsea are one of the best teams in Europe. But, in football, never say never.
“Anything can happen. Believe in yourself. We have to do our job. If they beat us, it’ll be because they are better. But we have to try.”
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