It was probably not what the marketing men wanted to hear, especially at a function designed to promote a new eight-year deal with adidas, but Jose Mourinho was speaking as a football man; which after all the talk of "branding" and "synergy" and "globalisation" was more than welcome. Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevkenko, he insisted, have been brought to Chelsea for their value on the pitch, not in the Megastore.
"We went to them not because we want to sell shirts, not because we think they will give us a lot of money in terms of merchandising, not to increase the number of supporters in Germany or Ukraine, but because we feel the team need this to improve," he declared. The specific improvement the manager is seeking, even after two seasons of dominating the Premiership, is in the game's most fundamental facet: goalscoring.
For the second season running Chelsea were comfortably champions but not the highest scorers. Indeed, only twice previously in Premiership history have the winning team scored as few as the 72 goals recorded in each campaign under Mourinho. The leading marksman each time has been a midfielder, Frank Lampard, with 14 and 13 goals respectively. Now he is being provided not only with an even more attack-minded midfield partner in Ballack, but in Shevchenko (187 goals in 326 club games) someone who ranks a cut above Didier Drogba (73 in 199) as a natural-born scorer. In Mourinho's words: "Somebody with a killer instinct, a very, very strong goal record." Hernan Crespo (20 in 49 games for Chelsea) may depart as a consequence.
Rumours persist that Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich, had considerable influence in the hiring of Shevchenko, as the club modified a policy of signing younger (albeit expensive) players capable of improving under Mourinho's coaching. This summer, the Feyenoord striker Salomon Kalou and Jon Obi Mikel from Lyn Oslo via Manchester United represent the latter group, but Ballack and Shevchenko, born within three days of each other, will both be 30 before September is out.
What Abramovich now wants for his money is twofold: Chelsea to become champions of Europe; and to earn rather more respect in the football community for the attractiveness and excitement of their play. A little worryingly for him - or, perhaps, for Mourinho - the manager refuses to make a priority of either aim. "To establish priorities is very difficult and very dangerous," he insisted. "The priority is to win the next game, Premiership or Carling Cup or Champions' League. Imagine on Saturday before a Champions' League game, I rest important players, then I lose in the Premiership and maybe in Champions' League too."
As to the charge that Chelsea are expensive but not expansive: "Of course we want to improve. Do we want to score more goals? Yes. Play better? Yes. But I don't want to win less times. There is like a movement around us to try to..." For once he is lost for words, at the British people's ingratitude, but only temporarily. "I want to be loved by my people, I want Chelsea supporters to love me. If I go to another English stadium and the people love me, it's because I'm a loser with Chelsea. So I'm not waiting for that."
What of personal and professional motivation at the start of a season which some even believe could be his last at Stamford Bridge? Their argument being that if Chelsea complete a hat-trick of titles and finally crack the Champions' League, Mourinho will want another challenge; and that if they fail to after £300 million of transfer expenditure in the Abramovich era, someone else will be invited to have a crack. He would still be proud of his record, but acknowledges an important truth about football management: "Our life is tomorrow, not yesterday. Sometimes you do things people never forget - Chelsea supporters will never forget that we won the championship after 50 years - but our life is about the next day.
"I want to win more things, it's as simple as that. It's a new season, a new challenge, what you did in the past is not a help - we don't start the season with 10 points more because we were champions last season. This League is a challenge. The Champions' League is the same.
"That's what motivates me. I love to train. I had six weeks' holiday and was mad [keen] to come back to the pitch and train. I am looking very much forward to playing, not a friendly, but to play Man City in the first game of the season. That's my life, a life I love, and when you win, life is better. So we have to fight for victories."
"Impossible is nothing", as the kit-makers' slogan has it. The syntax may be tortuous but the sentiment is one thing at least on which Mourinho can agree with them.Reuse content