Jose Mourinho is the last man Avram Grant will want to hear from as Chelsea embark on two crucial games to define their season, but the Portuguese coach last night broke his silence on today's pivotal Premier League game against Manchester United. Mourinho reminded his former Chelsea players that they were capable of beating United – because he taught them how to do it.
Chelsea go into today's game at Stamford Bridge with their hopes of stopping United from retaining the title slim indeed. However, Mourinho told The Independent yesterday that he ingrained a mentality in his former Chelsea players that they could beat Sir Alex Ferguson's team.
In his three seasons and two months at Chelsea, Mourinho's charges won five out of 10 games they played against United in all competitions and, Mourinho pointed out, Cristiano Ronaldo never managed to score a goal against his Chelsea team.
Speaking in his native Portugal, Mourinho's words will remind his successor Grant of just what an act he has to follow. Especially when Mourinho reminisced about the game on 29 April 2006, when a 3-0 victory for Chelsea over United at Stamford Bridge meant that his team had won the title for a second successive year.
"The Chelsea players know how to beat Manchester, they know how to beat them, they know why we beat them," Mourinho said. "They know why – against them – we did a few things we did not do in other matches. There is something also in the fact that in these matches Ronaldo did not score against Chelsea. This is a player who normally scores in every game.
"We played  times against Manchester United in three different competitions. We played them in the FA Cup , the Carling Cup semi-final [February 2005] and we played them in the Premier League and our record against them was very, very good. I think Chelsea players know how to do it [beat United]."
Nevertheless, Mourinho warned his former players that they face a United team who will be spurred on by the knowledge that victory for them this lunchtime will mean they virtually have the title in their hands. Should they win, United will be six points clear with two games to play and a vastly superior goal difference that acts as an extra point in the title race. They would require just one extra point from their last games against West Ham and Wigan to be sure.
"Manchester are in a better position to win the league because they can lose at Stamford Bridge and after that they still depend on their own results to win the title," Mourinho said. "I don't think they are under pressure playing at Stamford Bridge. They can go there with an open mind, with an open spirit and a lot of self-confidence. Because they know that they are the only ones who can celebrate [a title] if they win the match.
"It happened the same with us [Chelsea] two years ago, we played against United, we know that they couldn't celebrate [winning] the Premiership at Stamford Bridge but when we went into the tunnel we knew that 90 minutes later we could celebrate. We did it and this time MU know that they can. This can make a difference.
"But in a one-off game played at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea know very well how to beat them. I think Chelsea have a big chance to beat them. But my feeling is that even if Chelsea beat them, United play at home against West Ham and they go to Wigan away. Even if they lose at Stamford Bridge they have everything in their hands to be champions. I think they have an advantage in relation to Chelsea."
Another exclusive football interview in The Independent
*Sam Wallace's interview with Jose Mourinho today is the fourth exclusive interview with a major footballing figure in the Independent in the last eight days
* 'Sir Alex Ferguson is one of those people who represents football. He is football. He lives football. It is his life.' - Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard talking to Pete Jenson last Wednesday
* 'It's like being in a goldfish bowl, as it was when I was a player. As a chairman it's like that, except someone has stuck a blender in there as well. And switched it on.' - Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn, interviewed alongside his Newcastle counterpart Chris Mort by Michael Walker last Saturday
* 'It's something new when foreign people come into the country and buy clubs. But it's not bad for football.'- Manchester City manager Sven Goran Eriksson talking to Ian Herbert, eight days ago
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