Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge yesterday and gave Chelsea the stark reminder that they have won nothing of note, apart from one FA Cup, since he left in September 2007.
It was a classic Mourinho press conference full of sentimentality, spite and the supreme self-confidence that characterised his three and a half years at the club. He made much of his mended relationship with the Chelsea board – although he never mentioned Roman Abramovich by name – but he did not fight shy of reminding them what they were missing.
Ahead of tonight's Champions League last 16 second leg tie, which Mourinho's Internazionale lead 2-1, the Portuguese coach could not help himself when it came to reliving his achievements at Chelsea and the two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and two Carling Cups he won. He said he did not deserve to have been forced out and had done as much as any of his managerial peers to merit being in charge of a leading English club.
Mourinho said: "I feel sorry about it but I look forward. I feel sorry because, when I look at the big four teams while I was in England, they [the managers] are all still here. Sir Alex is here. [Arsène] Wenger is here. [Rafael] Benitez is here. I did more than enough to be here. But the decision was made. Chelsea look forward. I look forward. They moved on. I moved on.
"I have kept winning important things. They have kept winning ... something. [Since I left] they won an FA Cup. The most important thing is the relationship we have. There are no regrets, no big problems. Just respect. In football, coming back to an old team, an ex-club, it's important to feel like I feel. It's one of the most beautiful things in football."
Mourinho said that he would find it difficult to engage in his usual pre-match provocation because with Chelsea he had a different relationship. "I can't do this at Chelsea," he said. Watched by around 20 executives and staff who had left their offices to attend the press conference in the Centenary Hall, Mourinho made no secret of his feelings for the club.
"I feel at home," he said. "I opened the door and walked through the door; I go to the second floor where there are people I know; to the third floor where there are people I know. Some people came to me. The players didn't but they are working and are probably at a hotel. I feel at home. Before the game I know everybody and I love them, and after the game I know everybody and I love them. But for 90 minutes I know nobody.
"This is the club where I worked for three and a half years, the same people, the same players, the same supporters who made me feel incredible every time we played in this stadium. I don't believe I will be booed [tonight]. I think I will be clapped. Don't think this emotional control means I don't have a desire to win."
He even got in a mention of his self-styled status as the "Special One". "How old is [Giovanni] Trappatoni? I will still be working at 70 years old because I want to coach as long as him. But even at that age I will still have things to prove. I'm unlucky, but that's my motivation. So after the game I will be the Special One. Win or lose."
While Mourinho said that he deserved on one hand still to be in charge of Chelsea he also said, when asked, that his biggest regret from his time at Stamford Bridge was that he did not quit in May 2007, after Chelsea beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final. Instead he stayed on until September when he was eventually forced out after a draw at home to Rosenborg in the Champions League.
"I should have left the day after the FA Cup final at the end of that third season. The timing was wrong [when I eventually did leave]. I waited three or four more months more and, after that, I left in September and I didn't enjoy my time to the day I went to Inter."
The spite was reserved for the Italian press, whose relationship with Mourinho is at such a low that he was accused them of trying to "create a scandal" with constant questions about Mario Balotelli, the striker whom Mourinho has left out after a training ground row. It left the English contingent in the unusual position of being the favoured element.
How much did Mourinho want to win? Mourinho put great emphasis on having watched the DVD of the first leg seven times, and not just that – "I stopped and went back over bits, and stopped, then ran them again. I gave everything to prepare for this game."
"During the 90 minutes, I will give everything again to try and help my team win. Players win matches on the pitch. Coaches just try and give a bit of help. I'll try and do that. But don't confuse my feelings for my ex-players and my ex-club with my desire and motivation to win this game. There are three things I want to do in my career. One is to come back to English football; another is to win the Spanish championship, because no one has won Italian, English and Spanish titles; and the other one, when I'm old, is to coach my national team. But, for now, I would like to keep winning with Inter."Reuse content