Jose Mourinho discusses plan to solve Chelsea's Fernando Torres problem and why he wants to sign Wayne Rooney

Chelsea’s returning manager tells Sam Wallace about the limitations of Torres and Lukaku – and in doing so reveals why he wants Rooney

Kuala Lumpur

Questions about Wayne Rooney’s name are strictly off-limits with Jose Mourinho at the moment, but when the Manchester United striker is mentioned yesterday, he can at least see the funny side of it. “Forbidden word!” he shouts, in mock horror at the offending reporter, “go to the wall and turn your back for two minutes!”

There can be no answers about Rooney, but what cannot be avoided is what the Rooney situation says about the man he would potentially replace at Chelsea – indeed, the man who was the last marquee-name centre-forward. That is Fernando Torres whose mystifying slump has been a problem at Chelsea for some time. Now it is Mourinho’s problem too.

At the team’s hotel on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Mourinho gave his first extensive interview since his arrival at Chelsea and with the benefit of having worked with his squad for two weeks, albeit not yet Torres. He is in a better position now to discuss the squad’s strengths, and what he believes the future is for the likes of John Terry and David Luiz as well as his own status among the new group of Premier League managers.

As for Torres, the first thing that Mourinho has done is to accept the player’s limitations and try to work with the best of him “Fernando is a striker, nobody has doubts about it, but I think he's a striker more comfortable when he has space behind defenders,” Mourinho says. “He has it more difficult when opponents are very close, when opponents are compact and when he has to play in small spaces.

“He's more a player to go into a space than to play with the ball at his feet. That's something easy to understand about Fernando, so I will try to do my best.”

What can be done? Mourinho says that Romelu Lukaku, for instance, has “much more scope to be worked on, than an end product like Fernando at 29”. Asked whether Torres, who scored eight league goals last season in a total of 23, could be the player he once was again, Mourinho was open-minded.

“I think when Chelsea plays with that philosophy [creating space] he can. Against teams [who compress the play] very close and you have to play him in small spaces he will have a little bit more difficulty. At Liverpool they played much more of a ‘low block’, and he had balls to attack behind defenders. In that aspect he was a lot more comfortable. Sometimes it's easy to say a player is not performing but that might not be fair because sometimes the way you play decides if someone is more or less comfortable on the pitch.”

Asked whether, he has a striker who can perform that role, playing in tight spaces when the game is compressed, Mourinho is frank. “I would want to improve them [his current strikers] but that quality they don't have,” he says. “I will work on it with them.” There, in a nutshell, is why he wants Rooney.

It is an intriguing hour spent with Mourinho. He is used to talking about himself, but now he is in a position to talk about the players he has inherited almost six years since he left the club and the different nature of the challenge. “I cannot coach Marco van Ginkel the same way as I did Claude Makelele. I cannot coach Lukaku the same way I coached Didier Drogba. I cannot coach Frank Lampard at 35 years old the same way I was coaching him at 27. Even if many things look similar, everything is different.”

And what of Luiz, a defender with a maverick streak or a best as a midfielder? “For me, Luiz is a central defender,” he says. “Of course, I understand perfectly that he can help the team playing another position. But he's a central defender, no doubt about it. I think he has an important quality for the football we want to play, which is to build. He builds from the back and is comfortable with the ball. I think he can improve, as everybody can, and especially defensively. The potential is amazing.”

With his current squad, Mourinho sees himself much more as an educator “a bit of a coacher, a bit of a teacher”. He talks with enthusiasm about his young players’ capacity to “absorb and process” what he tells them and what he hopes is the “big space in their grey matter, lots of neurons free.”

Mourinho sees himself differently too. He warms to a theme that he is “the godfather” now Sir Alex Ferguson has gone, having helped to launch the careers of Andre Villas-Boas, Steve Clarke and Brendan Rodgers as well as Aitor Karanka, his assistant at Real Madrid, who he says will now pursue his own management career rather than join the staff at Chelsea. He even suggests he will involve himself in fewer disputes.

“I’m one of the guys with more time in football,” Mourinho says. “I won all the English competitions so maybe I have a bit more responsibility. I have that on my shoulders, so probably I have to be an example for everybody in many aspects not just the expectations of Mourinho winning. Everything - conduct, support, to be there for people when for some reason they need me.”

He remains generous and polite about David Moyes, suggesting that he must be very proud, as a Scot as well as a manager, to follow Ferguson. “One of the most difficult things in the club is to create a victory culture, where you walk through the door and you smell the success, you smell confidence, you smell self-esteem, Mourinho says.

“David is in a big club and that is a big help. Everybody knows how to win. Of course, it is up to him now. He has to coach, he has to decide who to buy, who to play, he has to train them every day.”

And what of Mourinho when he first arrived at Chelsea in 2004? He grimaces when he remembers the old training ground, those blowy old university sports pitches by Heathrow airport. “I trained at Harlington,” Mourinho says. “And the cup they had from the previous season was the Malaysian Cup they won here! Now Chelsea is a big club. If you go to Bangkok, the stadium is blue.”

Mourinho on...

Torres

Against teams [who compress the play] and you have to play him in small spaces, he will have a little bit more difficulty.

Luiz

For me, Luiz is a central defender. He’s very comfortable using the ball from the back. I think he can improve ... but the potential is amazing.

Terry

He’s not safe [in terms of a new contract] ...The only thing he knows is safe is our friendship ... he has to prove himself.

Ivanovic

I’m thinking more about using him as a right-back ... and his answer [to that] was very intelligent. He said that it doesn’t matter where he plays.

News
Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London
news

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game