Jose Mourinho at Chelsea: Manager hits back at Andres Iniesta after being accused of 'damaging' La Liga

The new Chelsea manager explains the reasons for the strong feelings in Spain about him
  • @jackpittbrooke

Jose Mourinho fiercely defended his time at Real Madrid earlier, after Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta said that he had “damaged” Spanish football, the new Chelsea manager saying that he “hurt” the Catalan giants by ending their hegemony.

Although Mourinho did not win the Champions League in his three seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, he did win the Spanish title back from Barcelona in 2011-12, in Pep Guardiola’s last season at the Nou Camp. In doing so, Mourinho claimed to have ended Guardiola’s great Barcelona side, who won the Spanish title in 2009, 2010 and 2011 as well as the 2009 and 2011 Champions Leagues, 2009 and 2012 Copa del Rey and 2009 and 2011 Club World Cups.

“I damaged Spanish football by being the manager that broke Barcelona's dominance,” Mourinho joked at his unveiling as Chelsea manager. “They were dominant, dominant and dominant, and it looked like a dominance without an end.”

“Then Real Madrid won a cup final against Barcelona [April 2011], the SuperCup against Barcelona [August 2012], we won in Barcelona and the championship [2011-12], 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.”

Mourinho did not add a third European Cup to those he won with Porto and Internazionale but he reminded that Madrid’s recent record in the competition that they have won nine times was not immaculate.

“We couldn't get the Champions League, 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.”

In Mourinho’s last season at Madrid, Real lost the Spanish title back to Barcelona, lost the Copa Del Rey final at home to Atletico Madrid and were knocked out of the Champions League semi-finals by Borussia Dortmund. The season was dominated by Mourinho’s feuding with goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas but he insisted their disagreement was purely sporting.

“I play the players I think are the best for the team,” he said. “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.”