Chelsea vs Schalke: Jose Mourinho says winning Champions League title is not 'an obsession'

The Special One is yet to lift the European title with the Blues having done it so far with Porto and Inter Milan

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho starts his latest Champions League campaign tonight, insisting that he “does not think a lot” about making history in the competition but giving the strong impression that it has crossed his mind more than once or twice.

If Chelsea, who play Schalke at Stamford Bridge, triumph in the Champions League final in Berlin next June, Mourinho will become the first manager to win the competition with three different clubs. They were knocked out in the semi-finals by Atletico Madrid last season but have improved since and are rightly among the favourites.

So is the Chelsea manager driven by the ambition to do what no one has done before, having seen Carlo Ancelotti win his third Champions League earlier this year with Real Madrid?

“If at the end of my career I achieved that situation, then good. But it’s far from being an obsession. It’s not even something I think about a lot.”

It did not take Mourinho very long, though, to suggest that he does spend at least some of his time thinking about the Champions League. He is understandably proud of his record of two wins, and still would be even if he never secured a third.

“The tournament is part of my history, I am part of the tournament’s history, it’s simple,” Mourinho said. “If I win it once more, to win with three clubs is unique. Even if I don’t do it, how many top managers in the world have only one or even not a single one?”

“You have the example of the greatest in our country [Sir Alex Ferguson], who won it twice. Even if, from this moment, I don’t win a single match in the Champions League, my history is there. I won it twice and that’s fantastic, and something of which to be proud. But do I want  to try and win it again? Of course I do.”

 

The question, then, is whether Chelsea are as good as his Porto team which won the competition in 2004 or the Internazionale side that triumphed in 2010? Those  two were domestic champions before they won the  Champions League and Porto had won the 2003 Uefa Cup as well.

Mourinho, though, said that the competitive standard of the Premier League meant that Chelsea are on their level. “England is a different contest,” he explained. “Is the third or fourth English team in the table better than almost every champion in Europe? Yes. Yes, no doubt. The competition is a different competition.”

Those Porto and Inter triumphs were both in the second season of Mourinho’s spell with them. His greatest year at Real Madrid, the only time they won La Liga, was in his second season at the Bernabeu in 2011-12. Only in his first period at Chelsea was his first season stronger than the second.

“I think the second season is a privileged place to have the team in very good conditions,” Mourinho said. “Obviously, there are teams and managers who work 10 or 15 years with the same team, and step by step with conditions to improve all the time. But I think the second season is a good space for evolution, for improvement.”

“It’s not easy to improve on what we did last season in terms of the table or the Champions League, but I think we are a better team, we are a better group. The team has better conditions, playing better football.”

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Mourinho said that Chelsea are still “far from perfection” but they certainly look better equipped, with the additions of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, as well as the maturing of Nemanja Matic and Eden Hazard. It was Hazard’s mistake that was so costly against Atletico last season but Mourinho sees growth in the 23-year-old, who is close to signing a new deal.

“Even last year he was changing, from a kid living on his natural talent, starting to have some tactical education and mental education,” he said. “Now we want what his talent allows him to do, to go from a top player to one of the greats of his generation.”

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