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José Mourinho gives first interview after latest sacking

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The former Chelsea coach talks about the sale of Salah, his time at Chelsea and Man United, and his future.

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

After his tenure at Old Trafford ended in rather inglorious fashion, a certain amount of schadenfreude was certainly due his way since José Mourinho hadn’t done his legacy any favours with certain comments made while in Manchester. Many had also expected the Blues’ most successful manager of all the time to take a brief break from football after a second sacking in three years, but he’s made of more stubborn stuff than that.

However, José will be José and what better way to follow all that up than with a public speaking engagement as a pundit for beIN Sports? In addition to covering the Chelsea against Arsenal game for the network, this assignment has given Mourinho a chance to air a few of his typical thoughts, including a few Chelsea-related ones, such as his usual defence of the Mohamed Salah situation. (Ed.note: he already tried this routine at least once, back in April of 2018, proving then what he’s about to prove again, that being technically correct isn’t always the best kind of correct.)

“First of all let’s start with Salah. Because lots of things have been told which are not true. For a start people try to identify me as the coach that sold Salah. I am the coach that bought Salah. It’s completely the wrong idea.

“I played against Basel in the Champions League. Salah was a kid at Basel. When I play against a certain team I analyse a team and players for quite a long time. And I fell in love with that kid. I bought the kid. I pushed the club to buy him and at the time we already had fantastic attacking players — Hazard, Willian, we had top talent there. But I told them to buy that kid. He was more a winger coming inside than a striker.

“[But] he was just a lost kid in London. He was a lost kid in a new world. We wanted to work him, to become better and better and better. But he was more of the idea of wanting to play and not wait. So we decided to put him on loan, in a culture I knew well. Italy. Tactical football. Physical football. A good place to play. Fiorentina are a good team to play for without the pressure of playing for the title. And we decided that move there. When the club decided to sell him it was not me. I bought him, I did not sell him.”

-José Mourinho; source: beIN Sport via Goal

Mourinho may be claiming innocence, but it goes without saying that there are always at least two sides to a story and let’s just leave it at that. The sales of Salah, De Bruyne or Lukaku will always sting a little but a lot of time has passed since. Our focus should be on ensuring that such situations do not happen again by learning from previous mistakes.

Arguably best part of this segment was when Mourinho talked about how he convinced Roman Abramovich to spend the money on future legend Didier Drogba from Marseille — even if it does sound a bit fanciful even for him that he’d have the ... let’s call it ego and self-confidence ... to tell Abramovich to shut up and pay up.

Mourinho also had quite a bit to say about his time at Manchester and took the chance to — quite rightly — bemoan the ever-increasing amount of player power in today’s game. He also made it clear that he wasn’t finished, not by a long shot.

“I want to coach. I am too young, I am in football for a long, long time but I will be 56 in a couple of weeks and am really too young. Where I am going to stay is where I belong, I belong to top football. I belong to top-level football and (that) is where I am going to be. [...] And also the reason why I accept to be here and I will accept in the next period, where I suppose [I will] not be working immediately, is also to know the new football better and to know the new football better is also to understand what is behind the cameras.”

-José Mourinho; source: beIN Sports via Sky

Mourinho’s surely not the type to give up and walk away in humiliation. And I certainly wouldn’t put it past José to use his unemployment to (finally) rethink and reinvent his now outdated tactics. He may not be a special one anymore, but he is still simply one of a kind. From The Special One to The Special Once ... to The Special Once Again? — don’t count him out just yet!

Until then, let’s hope Mourinho stays true to his word from a few years back when he said that if he ever became a pundit, he’d go on TV and “defend” Chelsea. If he’s anywhere near as ardent in doing so as he is in preserving himself, then Saturday on beIN Sport could turn out to be quite entertaining.

Time to forgive and forget?