Jose: 'We have to be punished. It must get under your skin'

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The Independent Football

Mourinho dismissed the former thought laughingly. What is true is that, at the start of Thursday morning, there had been a collective baring of the soul in a team meeting, though if you expected the Chelsea manager to make a drama out of an isolated, and unanticipated, Champions' League defeat, you are doomed to disappointment.

"For me, a drama is if we lose against [Real] Betis and everybody is singing in the bus," he insisted. "A drama is when I go to the meeting and the players don't agree with me. When we lose and everybody recognises that we have to improve... for me that's not a problem."

He added: "This meeting that I have had today, maybe I should have had it before - before we lose. I was smelling this kind of situation. But of course, it would not have had the same big impact as it does when you have been beaten."

Mourinho had reviewed the performance - the worst since he had taken charge - and been partially mollified by what he had witnessed. "After the game I didn't speak. I don't like to; you are too emotional. When you look at the game again, you realise it was not like you saw from the dug-out. To be fair, maybe we should have drawn this game, because in the second half we dominated and we hit both posts in succession [from Michael Essien's attempt]."

Yet he stressed: "I'm happy we didn't. Because if you draw a game where your approach is so bad, you think everything is OK. So we have to be punished. It has to get under your skin for the meeting to mean more." He paused. "But I cannot say because of the meeting we are going to win [at Manchester United this afternoon]."

He must be privately relishing today's trip, however. Old Trafford was the scene of his animated celebrations, as coach of Porto, when a late goal meant his side marched on to a Champions' League final triumph, and last season his Premiership champions were applauded on to the field by Sir Alex Ferguson's men, a noble gesture, if an unpalatable one for many United players. His men proceeded to complete a League double in a season as well as recording a Carling Cup triumph there. His squad travel seeking a 41st game undefeated in the League, just eight short of Arsenal's record.

"If we win up to the game 49, I'm happy with the record. If we draw five of those, I don't want that record," he said. "We need points to stay top."

It is put to him that thus far the Premiership had been "too easy", that it was not satisfying for a man who clearly enjoyed living on the edge. "I prefer 20 points' difference," he retorted. "That's what I tried to explain to the players. It should be easier when you're not under pressure. Imagine going to United with the same points. There are 20 minutes to go, and it's 0-0 or 1-1. We don't want to lose. We take no risks. If you have 10 points' advantage, and it's 0-0, aren't you in a better position to take risks and try to win the game? I think you are."

With Ferguson under pressure, was he not concerned that United might resort to the uncompromising tactics they employed against Arsenal last season? "We know they will do everything to defeat Chelsea. That's normal," he shrugged. "I want to start with 11 and finish with 11. I don't want players involved in provocation or in conflict. I don't want players to react to aggressive actions. With the quality United have, the best thing for them is to trust in that and to play a proper game.

"My team is not dirty. My team is clean. In England, almost every team is like that. It's something we don't want to change."