Jose Mourinho buries hatchet after Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits Chelsea got Anfield tactics right

Manager accepts ‘congratulations’ as he refines strategy to break down Atletico in Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night

Jose Mourinho claimed vindication last night for his tactics at Anfield as he revealed that the Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, had called him on Tuesday to admit his approach was right.

After Sunday’s game, Rodgers had scorned Mourinho’s approach as “easy to coach” but on Tuesday he congratulated the Chelsea manager, who said that Sunday’s disagreement  had been forgotten, and that tactics that were not pragmatic were “stupid”.

“Brendan is a manager and is somebody I consider my friend,” Mourinho said at his press conference before Wednesday night's Champions League semi-final with Atletico Madrid. “Of course I know his words after the match, but I also know his words today, and today he told me congratulations for a great victory and a great performance.

“Because I consider him a friend and someone I like, I prefer to forget the words after the match and I keep today’s word. He’s an intelligent guy. He watched the match for sure on video and, now, I think he understood what happened.”

Mourinho said that he would play “strategically” this evening and described managers who play contrary to their strengths, in accordance with another philosophy, as “stupid”.

“At the moment, football is full of philosophers, people who understand much more than me,” joked Mourinho. “When Atletico have the ball, we have to defend. When we have the ball we have to attack. This is the football that I know.

 

“You have to try and play according to the qualities of your players and the qualities of your opponents. I remember in my first period here, I said if you have a goalkeeper like Petr Cech who puts the ball in the opponents’ box, and a striker like Didier Drogba who wins everything in the air, why play short? Because you are stupid. If your opponents are very fast on the counter and want space behind your defensive line, if you give them that space you are stupid.”

Although Mourinho said the tie was “very balanced” at 0-0, he hoped his players could enjoy a “special” occasion at Stamford Bridge as they seek to book a place in the final against his former club Real Madrid. “There are some matches that are special. The match every player wants to play is the Champions League final, but after that game it’s the second leg of the Champions League semi-final. So we have to enjoy it.”

Eden Hazard is fit again after injury but Cech will not play, despite taking part in training on Tuesday.

John Terry will also return after injury and Mourinho said that the “Champions League owes him something” after difficulties in the competition in the past: “I think he deserves more than the Champions League has given him up to now. He lost a few semi-finals in special circumstances. He lost the final also in special circumstances.”

Terry missed a decisive penalty in the shoot-out at the 2008 final against Manchester United and was suspended for the 2012 final, which Chelsea won, against Bayern Munich. He said that “football doesn’t owe me anything” but admitted he was desperate for more European Cup glory.

“I did think that after Moscow [it was our last chance] if I’m honest,” Terry said. “Then the opportunity came about and I ended up missing it. After that I was delighted. I was just happy in Munich that the players and fans got what they deserved, and we got our hands on the trophy.

“Now we’re back here again: it seems to be year after year that the desire within the squad is exceptional, something built within the squad.”

Terry did have his shirt from the 2008 final up in his house but took it down after Chelsea won the 2012 final. He added: “For a long time I used it as motivation.  When we won it I took it down and it went into the loft and another one replaced it. Disappointing memories, but when you go on to win it, happy memories tend to outweigh those.

“Those winning moments live with you, those moments when you get your hands on the trophy, particularly when you’re in a difficult period personally and professionally. Those memories tend to spur you on.”

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