Chelsea vs Porto: Porto’s most successful manager returns to the club with a 'hard heart'

Mourinho's last years in Madrid were dominated by a civil war between manager and star players Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho arrived back at FC Porto to see the club celebrate the history to which he is so important. It was the club’s 122nd birthday and, as coach Julen Lopetegui observed, “it is not every day the club reaches this age”. There were former players, live music and boys dressed in vintage kits at the Estadio do Dragao.

Through the whole existence of FC Porto, no manager has achieved more than Mourinho did from 2002 to 2004, winning two Portuguese leagues, one cup, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League. “Mr Mourinho is a wonderful coach and did great things at Porto,” Lopetegui said. “I respect that.” 

Mourinho went to the club museum, where his statue is between those of Sir Bobby Robson and Andre Villas-Boas. “When you are lucky enough to be part of it, when you are not just a simple visitor, when you did something to deserve to be part of the museum, it is very emotional,” Mourinho said, with genuine feeling. “You realise you did something important, something that time will not delete. It is the kind of visit that makes my oppositional heart a bit softer, and now I have to make it hard again.”

And yet the history that hangs over this game is not just the glorious spell that launched Mourinho’s career, but also the acrimonious three years in Madrid before he returned to Chelsea. This should have been the peak of his career, as he arrived at the biggest club in the world after winning the treble with Internazionale. But he won one league title and one cup in three seasons, and left with the club collapsing in on itself.

Those last years in Madrid were dominated by a civil war between Mourinho and star players Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. They did not like his tactics or his abrasiveness towards Barcelona, which they feared was destroying the unity of the Spanish national team. Mourinho accused them of leaking secrets to the press and failing to support him in public. 

After one especially tempestuous Clasico in 2011, Casillas phoned Barcelona’s Xavi to patch up the differences between the Spanish players on the two sides. Mourinho was said to be furious. By the end of Mourinho’s final season at Madrid, he was picking Diego Lopez ahead of Casillas.

Casillas outlasted Mourinho at Madrid, showing that even a manager as successful as Mourinho cannot win every battle.

This summer Casillas left for Porto, meaning he will face Mourinho on Tuesday evening. Here in Porto national broadcaster RTP1 has been building up to the game by showing what Casillas and Mourinho have said about each other in the past. The Porto fans love Mourinho, but they love Casillas too. 

Mourinho cut off a question in his press conference last night, saying that he would greet Casillas at the beginning and the end of the match, and would take no more questions on the matter.

Lopetegui said Casillas has brought a lot of “glamour” to Porto. Centre-back Maicon said Casillas was a “humble person” who has brought “great experience”.

Maicon will be up against compatriot Diego Costa this evening. Costa is available for the first time since his three-game retrospective ban for violent conduct. “He is frustrated and rightly so,” said Cesc Fabregas. “It is very unfair what happened to him.”

Maicon tried not be drawn into any pre-match sparring on the subject of his likely rival. “Every player has his style,” Maicon said. “I’ll be physically and mentally prepared for Diego Costa.”

The difficult job of overseeing that particular clash goes to Antonio Mateu Lahoz, the Spanish referee who was praised by Mourinho when he was at Real Madrid. Lopetegui was asked about this last  night and said only: “He is a great referee and a great  professional. He can have whichever friends he wants, I don’t care.”

Mourinho had said in his first season at Real Madrid that he wished Lahoz would referee all their games. “I like him because he doesn’t have any time for swimming pool artists,” Mourinho said. “And in my team there are no swimming pool artists.”

Mourinho pointedly praised Lahoz after Real beat Espanyol 1-0 in February 2011. “I like Mateu, he is a great referee and he lets the game flow,” Mourinho said.  90 seconds into that game Lahoz had sent off Casillas. The three men will be reunited tonight, four years on, Mourinho trying to make more positive history back at the club where his legend was launched. “I am not here as a Porto fan,” he said. “I am going to make my heart hard.”