You seem to be smiling and enjoying yourself?
I am smiling for two days. First of all, I think I have to and I do it with a bit of sadness, but I have to speak about Mauricio.
I have to congratulate him for the work he did and I have to share with you what we already shared indoors, which is this club will always be his home, this training ground will always be his training ground, he can come when he wants, when he misses the players, when he misses the people he worked with, the door is always open for him.
From my experience, tomorrow is another day and he will find happiness again. He will find a great club again, and he will have a great future. This will be very bad news if this is the last time he loses his job because that is our life. The point is we give everything every day like we did, to leave with a sad feeling but with a feeling that he did great work. I would like to say that because it is what everybody at the club feels. He will always be.
I am disappointed that you are happy I am here because I thought you would like to keep me at Sky, but that is OK. We are friends and you know very well that I enjoy what I did but this is my life, and this is where I belong and this is what really makes me happy. I am not smiling as much today because I have a game in two days and not a lot of time to work, but deep inside I am really, really happy.
Every minute I spend in the club I realise that my decision was correct. I am really enjoying a big football club with a big structure and a great organisation where I am really more focused on my job, on my coaching, on my players and my team and I am not worried at all with everything that surrounds me. It is not about the wonderful structure we have, it is also about the dynamic of the structure. Fantastic, really amazing and I am more than happy to be here.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you and on a scale of 1-10 how difficult a job will it be?
Happiness wise and convinced that my choice was a great one 10, I couldn’t be happier. In relation to the difficulty of the job, every time a club changes in mid-season it is because the situation is not good, that is obvious, unless something strange happened that we don’t know outside basically the results make these decisions.
If I forget that in two days I have a match and if I forget in four days that I have another match and that we need results and that we have objectives, if I can forget that I would say great job because the potential of the club is huge, the potential of the club is great, I am so happy. It was one of the reasons I came because the vision that Mr Levy put in front of me about his club and the quality of the players, the quality of the squad, were the main reasons why I decided to come. I know I have a great job in my hands. It is not easy because I need to be balanced. I cannot think I can come and in four days change things, I don’t have a great experience of getting teams in mid-season, it is only the second time I have done it, I did it in Porto in 2001.
But I thought about it for the last few months because I had the feeling was going to get a team in mid-season so I thought about it a lot and the conclusion was that I will always have a game two or three days after my appointment, I need to go with stability and I need to trust the base and the base that was before. They were in the hands of a good manager and a good coaching staff. Of course we have principles in our style of play and principles in our leadership style that are going to change, that is obvious, but I cannot come here and think it is about my fingerprint, about myself, it is about the players and trying to go from a base of stability. I will be careful about the selection of information, the selection of the training sessions, a good control over the intensity of the training sessions to try and go from a base of some comfort to the boys. It is not easy, but let’s go for it.
You’ve been out for 11 months and have done plenty of studying, despite all you’ve done are you now a new improved Jose?
I think so. I believe so. I have to believe so. I always thought that these 11 months were not a waste of time. These 11 months were months to think, to analyse, to prepare and anticipate things. I think so. I think you never lose your DNA, you never lose your identity, what you are. I had time to think about many things. Don’t ask me what are the mistakes but I realise that during my career I made mistakes. I am not going to make the same mistakes, I am going to make new mistakes.
I had time. I think I am stronger. When I say I’m stronger I’m not saying I’m fitter, I’ve always been fit, but I think I’m stronger. From an emotional point of view I’m relaxed, I’m motivated, I’m ready and I think the players they felt that in these two days.
They felt that I’m ready. I’m ready to support them. This is not about me. I think in your career you go through moments, not just in your career but also in your life, moments and periods and I am in a period where it’s not about myself at all. It’s about my club, my club’s fans, my players, it’s not about me. I’m just here to try to help everyone.
The Eriksen conversation and the 5 things on Jose Mourinho’s Spurs to-do list as he gets to work
What is the key thing you’ve learned about yourself during this break from management?
I am humble. I am humble enough to try to analyse, which is what I did, to try to analyse my career. Manchester last year, to analyse my career, the problems and the solutions. I was humble enough for that.
The principle of the analysis was not to blame anyone else. When I had meetings with my assistants and the people that I thought about bringing with to work with me in this chapter, it was always based on the belief that there is nobody else to blame, nobody else to analyse. It is just only about us. That was a great thing because I went really deep in that analysis and it was very important to me.
I am nobody to advise people but sometimes to have a break it looked very positive for me. I can say that because it was the first summer I didn’t work it wasn’t easy. I felt a little bit lost during that pre-season period but before that and after it was a learning process. I even learned how to be a pundit.
You promised passion and happiness, we didn’t see that much last year, have you got your mojo back?
I have to go to Google Translate to work out what mojo is. I can more or less feel what you mean. When I don’t win I cannot be happy and I cannot change that in my DNA. I hope I can influence the players in not being happy without winning football matches.
If you are happy by losing football matches, it’s difficult to be a winner in any moment of your career. That’s a basic principle. But the emotional control, to keep the self esteem and confidence in yourself and show confidence to others and in those who work around you is very, very important as a principle.
Another thing I have to learn and those who work around me is that sometimes you have to work with people that don’t love you and work well. The other thing is that people who work for you and around you have to learn to share your principles. I have principles that I will keep for the rest of my career and I cannot change. One of these principles is I don’t like to lose.
Spurs fans know you as Mr Chelsea, what do you need to do to win them over?
No, I think they have to see me as Mr Inter, Mr Real Madrid, Mr Porto, I think they have to see me as Mr Club, which means that every club I go to as I used to say in a funny way, I arrive, I wear the pyjamas of the club and I even sleep with the pyjamas. I work and I sleep in the tracksuit and pyjamas. You confuse the tracksuit with the pyjamas. So that’s the way I am. I am a club man, but a many club man. I decided in my career to have these adventures, go through different countries until I’d done what I call the grand slam of Italy, Spain and England. I didn’t stop. I wanted to do it and I did it with this passion.
Of course I always feel that the Premier League is my natural habitat. It’s where I feel if I have the options it’s always the football country and league I feel is the best and most enjoyable and where I am really happy. So when you decide to stay more years in the same country in modern football I think Mr Wenger was the last of that generation of big era in a football club. Sir Alex and then Mr Wenger.
Mauricio, five and a half years is really amazing. It’s normal that you change from club to club. I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow Mauricio is the manager of another English club. This is modern football and people have to look at that. If I play against one of my previous clubs, which I will, at least Chelsea and Manchester United but hopefully Inter or Real Madrid in the Champions League, Porto no because they’re in the Europa League, but if I play against one of my teams which I did many times, you know I only have one passion, only one thing in my mind and that’s my club and now it’s Spurs. I won the Champions League against Porto and three months later I was playing against Porto. That’s just life and the way it is.
I’m not Chelsea, I’m not Manchester United and I’m not Real Madrid, I’m not Inter. I am all of them and I give everything to all of them and that’s what I’m going to do here, give absolutely everything I have.
Jose Mourinho takes his first Spurs training session (Image: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
I first interviewed you….
So I am going to meet you every time after the game in cold tunnels after the game, freezing, you will be there all the time? (Rolls his eyes and then laughs) You are one of the good guys…
You say you’re humble, brashness made you great. Are you worried that if you’re humble maybe you’ll lose something?
No. I was always humble but the problem is that you did not understand that. I was always humble in my way. My way. No problem with that.
You’ve come into a club with contract issues, what have you made of it all?
It is too early. Early days. I have no time for individual cases. I don’t know how I can influence or try to influence. I did not have time. Mr Levy did not have time to go around this. The first thing is for the players to feel good and if they are going to leave in January, if they are going to leave in June, or if they are going to sign a new contract, I think everything has to be based on feeling good. And to feel good is to be ready for Saturday. To be there and available for the team. Jan can’t do because of injury. Then it is about the club, about them, about me, about Mr Levy but fundamentally it is about players to be happy.
You have to be happy to choose what makes you happy. Let’s see. In this moment let’s go in the short term and in the short term we have to try to get two results in the next two matches. Because it is important in the Premier League we need to disappear from the area where we do not belong. In the Champions League we have two matches to qualify but if we can qualify after the first match, which will be my first match at home, would be better.
Is managing Tottenham the biggest challenge in your career as they have not won titles and there are still expectations on you?
I see every challenge with the same responsibility. I can not answer to you in a very objective way. It is my challenge in this moment but I don’t feel it is about me as I was saying before. I understand that people will look at me about myself and I understand when a top player goes to some club people try to focus on him. I don’t think it is about the player and his success. It is about the team’s success. This is globaility.
That is the way I see it. It is a club situation. A club vision. A club objectives. It is not Mourinho vision or Mourinho objectives. It is about us. So I don’t feel it this way. It is already almost two decades of big clubs, big challenges, big expectations. I think I am guilty of it because with my career I create so many expectations with people. In this case I think it is Spurs fault because in the last years the club grew up in such a direction where people in waiting for even bad days. So we have to go together and stick together and think about the good things that we can do.
Have you already got a Christmas list of transfers and is Bruno Fernandes on it?
A Christmas list? I am thinking about gifts I have to give to people I love and that is always a problem because I always like to give the best gifts.
I always try to be very analytical and try to understand what people love to get. Players? The best gift is the ones that are here. I don’t need players. I don’t need players. I am so happy with what I have. I just need time to understand them better and know everything about them because I always say you only know a player when you work with them. Of course how many times have I watched these guys, how many times have I played against them. I knew them well but never know them well enough until you work with them and my gift is this squad because the squad is very, very good.
How did you feel when you woke up and you were Spurs manager?
This morning I woke up here at the training ground. I stayed. We worked yesterday until very, very late and we all stayed in the lodge and if you are trying to find a six-star hotel you couldn’t find better than here. Absolutely amazing. Great beds, huge pillows. Huge pillows. Amazing you sleep in the middle of five or six huge soft pillows. Very, very good. Expensive duvet. Expensive duvet. So, so good. So this morning I woke up with all my guys, seven o’clock and started working. So that’s what I did and I’m really, really happy.
What did you say to your players when you met them for the first time?
I told them exactly what I am telling you. I told them that one of the reasons why I decided to come was them, was them. I tried to buy some of them for different clubs and I couldn’t. Some of them I didn’t even try because you know how impossible it is. But I like this squad very, very much. I like the players very, very much. It’s not something new that I said that. It’s not like ‘ok, now you are their manager you are saying that because you want to look nice’. That’s not the point.
Will you make many changes?
I don’t want to make big changes. I want to respect the base and the base is the work they did for five and a half years. It’s not the work they did for two days. The work we did for two days we hope that is a plus. We hope that is an update. Not a change. The base is what they did before. This is not about me. This is not about me coming here and saying everything was wrong with Mauricio, not at all. Not at all. I just come to try to understand why in the last year the results in the Premier League were not good and to try to understand how I can help them to reach again a good level because, as I was saying, the players are very good and I am not here to make dramatic changes. I am just here to follow the process and get across my ideas in a progressive way: don’t lose that stability, don’t create the confusion in their brains. In football you have to express yourself, you cannot be confused. So I am going to be very, very careful in relation to that.
Do you think it had a big impact, Spurs not winning the Champions League final?
I don’t know because I never lost a Champions League Final. But I can imagine it’s not easy. You reach one of the biggest moments that you can achieve in football. You are one step away from it, you cannot do it, I can imagine that is not easy but you have the example of Liverpool. One year they lost the Premier League by one point and they lost the Champions League by one goal and the next season, which is the current season, they are very strong in the Premier League and last season, which is the season after they lost the Champions League final they went very very strong and they win it. So I don’t think there is something we can say where there is a rule on the way people react to is and of course I don’t want to go as deep as that because that is their history in the club.
When it comes to your style of play, what kind of game will we see Spurs play?
Very similar to before. That’s what I keep saying. Very similar to before. Of course I am going to try to add some details and sometimes details that can make the difference and progressively we will arrive to a fingerprint but the style of play has to be always adapted not just to the club culture but especially to the players’ qualities. And that’s the way it is so these are the players, they have the qualities, adapted to a certain way of playing football and that’s the way I want to do it.
You said earlier you have to work with people you don’t love, is that the biggest lesson you learned at United?
It’s one of the lessons, if you want to call it a lesson. For me, it’s just experiences. Accumulation of experiences and for me, it’s just about that. You have to learn with your experiences, especially when you have time to analyse every single detail. I think it’s a very important thing but I cannot say it’s a lesson because again I go back to my answer before, this is also about principles. And if people share principles.
I read one quote from Kobe Bryant, and if you have to speak about some examples of professionalism and serial winners, Kobe is a great example in his sport, in the world of sport. Where he says: ‘People say that I’m difficult but I’m only difficult for the ones that don’t share my principles.’ So all the colleagues that share his principles, they just love him. The ones that don’t like him are the ones that don’t share the principles. And with me it’s basically the same. For me everything is about the team, it’s not about selfish people. For me, everything is about the group and professionalism and commitment and respect for the club, respect for the mates, respect for the fans.
I cannot run away from this so if there is somebody that doesn’t share these principles with me, then we have a problem and we will always have a problem because this is the way I think football has to be. The players are only big when they make the others better. You cannot be a big player if you just think about yourself. That’s another principle. To be a big player, you have to make others big. If I have player that think they are big and they just care about themselves, and forget to help others to be big, we are always going to have a problem.
Four years ago at Chelsea, you were asked if you would ever come to Spurs, and you said Never, I love the Chelsea fans too much. What’s changed?
That was before I was sacked! That’s modern football. When my father was a player and before the Bosman law, the players used to play 20 years in the same club. Every day with the same player next to him, the same guy on the right side in the dressing-room, the same centre-back in front of the keeper. For 15, 20 years.
In this moment, in relation to players after the Bosman law, everything changed. In relation to us coaches, in some parts because of you [the media], we lost that stability. It’s lots of pressure. Even for the nature of society now, it looks like everything is fast, even the relationships are fast. Players can get tired of each other, they can get tired of the manager. Everything looks like it’s faster, so we need to change. So when I went to Manchester United, we are not even speaking about Tottenham, when I went to Manchester United, if I stay in England only for Chelsea, I would have to be waiting for a third opportunity.
Probably a third opportunity, another Premier League [won] because every time I go there I win the Premier League but that’s not the problem. So I went to Manchester United with a free mind and a free heart. Manchester United occupied my heart even with things that I didn’t enjoy too much. I loved so much about Manchester United, the fans, the people that worked in the club, I love it. And now it’s about Spurs. I can be really happy here, make people happy and there’s not a bigger, let’s say fan than me in the world who wants Spurs to win and be successful. Maybe the same as me, but not more than me. So Chelsea is the past, a great past, two periods, two periods with titles. But it’s the past.
You went to Porto mid-season and said you would win the title one year later, would you say the same here?
We cannot win the Premier League this season. We can – I’m not saying we will do – we can win it next season.
Are you excited to be working with these players?
It’s one of the reasons I came. Everything started with Mr Levy’s vision for the club which he shared with me in a very very specific way. That impressed me. But I wanted a club with a good level of players and a good level of the team. We have a v good squad with good young players coming. I don’t know in detail but it’s an academy that normally produces good talents. As I always say there is not one manager in the world who doesn’t like to play, and to help young players to develop.
The problem is some of them get players to bring through and some don’t. I was lucky to have Scott McTominay as a kid, Rafael Varane as a kid, Balotelli as a kid. I was lucky to have talents in the majority of the clubs where I’ve been. So if Tottenham is a great academy that produces great players it’s also something nice.
You won Chelsea’s first title in 50 years, Inter’s first Champions League title in 45 years, is this the biggest challenge?
If we titles it will not be the consequence of me but the consequence of the club’s work. This is a package and a vision. Everything starts with a vision. The stadium is part of the vision. The training ground is part of the vision. The academy is part of the vision. To try to keep all the best players and refuse to let the best players to go away is part of the vision too. Maybe to have a manager with my experience is also part of the vision. This is about the vision and if we win a title, it doesn’t matter when, my contract is three and a half years, but if we win a title during my period it will not be because of myself. It is just the natural consequence of a vision and a plan.
Have you made contact with Real Madrid since leaving Manchester United?
If you want to call my friends at Real Madrid Real Madrid then yes I speak with them many times. I have so many friends there. The president is the first one. He loves me and I love him, we are friends, we speak, we exchange SMS, we wish luck, we say Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, good luck in the game. I loved my period there. We did amazing things. We had our problems. We had our frustrations. It was an amazing period for me.
I feel always very flattered when I leave these things behind me which go above success, above football. It’s about the human being. It’s about relations. I received 50 messages yesterday from Manchester United people. Some players, some staff, some staff over different areas of the club, the board, everybody. And that for me means the worlds. It’s not about winning or not winning. It’s about the respect people have for you because you were a professional and a good person and you create empathies.
So Real Madrid is part of my livelihood, part of my life and I always wish them good, I am always happy when Real Madrid goes in the right direction. If we play them in the Champions League, apart from that match I just want Real Madrid to win and to be successful.