He says his immediate future lies in Italy or Spain, but Jose Mourinho yesterday returned to old acquaintances in England with a cold dismissal of Avram Grant, a vow to "kill" Chelsea if he ever encountered them in competition – and a withering put-down of Arsène Wenger.
In a round of interviews, Mourinho gave a reminder to Europe's top clubs that he wants to return to work this summer and also a reminder to everyone else that when he does they can expect him to be as aggressive and outspoken as ever.
It was significant that, in the first of the interviews, he talked to the Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport, in the wake of Milan's exit from the Champions League at the hands of Arsenal. Carlo Ancelotti, Milan's coach, will have taken note of that especially with Mourinho effectively confirming that working for the Rossoneri – or Internazionale, Roma and Juventus – "would all provide fascinating challenges".
If he did turn up at Milan it is likely that he will try and take Didier Drogba with him while moves to sign Frank Lampard and Ricardo Carvalho would also be likely, although it would be difficult to buy all three in one summer. Indeed Mourinho compared Lampard, who is 29, to Paolo Maldini in terms of his ability to play on for years to come. "Lampard is extraordinary, someone who can play all the matches in a season until he's 40. He's a bit like Maldini, year after year, he's always there," he said.
Mourinho added the qualification that the clubs mentioned "all have important coaches" but his intention, as with the interest he has shown in Real Madrid and Barcelona, was clear. Whoever comes calling first from that elite group can get him although he insisted that his future was not determined and that he would go to the club "who believe totally in my plan". "I am totally free at the moment, I have not signed any pre-contracts, nor gentlemen's agreements," he said.
Whether Mourinho rates Wenger or Grant in that "important coaches" category is a moot point. Asked about the Arsenal manager, he described the result in the San Siro on Tuesday evening as "unbelievable". Mourinho then added that Arsenal are "a unique team". "Their coach hasn't won for years, but he's an idol," the Portuguese said. "There are no pressures at Arsenal. But do not say he's growing young players into talents, because he takes jewels [to the club] and polishes them, it's different. He has time to work in a serene atmosphere and get results."
The bad blood between the pair continued throughout Mourinho's time at Chelsea and he was in no mood for being any more charitable towards the man who replaced him at Stamford Bridge. He said he hoped to play Chelsea in the Champions League next season. "I want to go there and kill them – that's my message," he said.
On Grant, whose appointment as director of football he had opposed until it was presented as a fait accompli, Mourinho added: "I feel nothing for him, I feel everything for the club, but not for him personally. I still feel Chelsea is a part of me, I'll have Chelsea in my heart forever. I left and for five months you couldn't get a bad word from me in relation to the club and you cannot do it in the future too."
Mourinho also claimed that he was still in touch with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and chief executive Peter Kenyon and spoke to "people from the club" only last week. "I was telling them I wish them always good, I wish them always to succeed, I wish them always to win," he said.
Mourinho said he was spending his time at home in Setubal "studying" and compiling a computer programme of his work ahead of his return to football next season. He said he was happy with his decision to pull himself out of the contest to become England's new manager – even admitting that Fabio Capello was the man he would have called. "I like him, also as a person. I will root for him because England are my second national team, I defend the Premier League and the spirit which permeates its football," he said. Mourinho claimed he would like to return to English football eventually before ending his career by managing the Portuguese national team.
The 45-year-old, who will employ his Portuguese backroom staff wherever he does eventually end up, said that his "next challenge will be to show that you can go after three competitions in top gear, like I did with Porto and Chelsea. You can finish second in the league, or lose the FA Cup final, or lose the Champions League for a non-existent goal, as it happened [to Chelsea] in Liverpool. But always stay at the top: anyone who wants me must know this." They probably already do.Reuse content