Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho sat down for an in-depth interview about the match against his former club Chelsea. Here’s what the manager had to say ahead of kick-off at Stamford Bridge…
Firstly, Luke Shaw signed a new contract on Thursday. How good a deal is that for both the player and the club?
“I’m happy for both. I’m happy for the club because we keep a good young English progressing player that is only getting better and better and better. The contract is a long-term contract. I’m happy for him because this is what he wants. This is what he was working for and, even in the difficult moments of this process, the process of his development as a player, even in the low moments when he wasn’t selected, even when he wasn’t playing regularly for us, he always said that ‘I want to play for you, I want to play for United, I’m ready to cope with this process of development’ so I’m very happy for both. As I was saying yesterday, I think Luke has reason to be very proud, to be very happy with himself, because he has a strong mentality and I think now he’s getting the good consequences of his hard work.”
You must be one of the most hard-working people in football! You’ve been busy again during the international break, so how was that for you?
“[I had] a bit of everything [in the international break]. We worked here with the players that stayed here. I went to an international match [in Montenegro] as you know. Then we came back and we were waiting for the boys to come back from their national teams. Some came back in good condition and the happiness of some good results. Some came back with injuries, injuries that we were aware of when they happened and the national teams were correct in sending the boys back. We also had surprises with players that we had no idea that they were injured and they arrived with important injuries. The squad shape is that everybody available is selected.”
Are any of the lads who missed the win over Newcastle able to return?
“Players that are going to make an effort to be available for the team, like Herrera. He trained two days but, with the situation we have, it’s one step forward and he’s ready to help us.”
It was a great comeback victory over Newcastle last time out, so how do you reflect on that now?
“You know, it was the third time for me [coming back from two goals down to win a game] at Manchester United, no? Crystal Palace, Man City and Newcastle. I think, in a short period of time, to have – I think – the privilege to live these three moments is fantastic. They are the matches that you don’t forget. I remember clearly a match in the past where I was losing 2-0 and won 3-2, losing 3-0 and then drew 3-3. These are the matches that you keep in your memory – Newcastle is the fresh one but, in a couple of years, Palace, Man City and Newcastle, to win 3-2 is a fantastic feeling and, as an experience, it’s the best experience that you can have – the game is lost and in the end you win.”
Yes, we love those kind of comebacks – brilliant stuff. As for the game at the Bridge, it’s always a tough place to go so what are you expecting?
“I think I have some responsibility for that because the record since 2004 is really bad for Manchester United. I think around 20 matches since I arrived at Chelsea in 2004 and the results are negative for United. United traditionally don’t get good results there but I get the last two matches we’ve played there – one in the FA Cup and one in the Premier League – both we lost 1-0. In one we were the best team and then with 10 men it was difficult to cope with it and we lost. In the second one, the game was completely under our control and we conceded a very naïve goal from a [Cesar] Azpilicueta cross from behind and [Alvaro] Morata with a free header. It’s the kind of place where obviously the opponent is very good and has a fantastic squad of players. You know that to win there, you need to play really, really well and you cannot make mistakes because if you’re playing well and make the mistake, you’re punished by the mistake. We know what it takes to play well there but we also know what it’s like to make mistakes and to pay for the mistakes. We need a perfect performance to win the game.”
And finally, you achieved so much at Chelsea. Is it just another game when you go back there?
“For me, yes. For me, it is. Manchester United is my club and I go there to just focus on my work, my club and the desire to win the match – everything is that. Would you see me celebrating like crazy in a stadium that was my stadium? Maybe not, maybe that respect stays forever, but the desire to win is exactly the same as if I was going to the Emirates [Arsenal’s stadium]. It’s exactly the same.”