Jose: To be United manager is an honour every day
Jose Mourinho invited MUTV into his office at the Aon Training Complex for an exclusive interview about his new contract at Manchester United, which will keep the manager at the club until at least 2020. Here's what he had to say...
I feel happy. I don’t sign contracts if I’m not happy. I’m really happy with the trust, the empathy [at the club]… it’s a special contract for me because I’m used to signing new contracts after big achievements. Of course I’m happy to do that, but it feels like the trust, the empathy and the belief in my work is a consequence of that big achievement. I did a new contract with Chelsea after being champions, at Inter after winning a scudetto, in Real Madrid after winning La Liga. In here it’s a consequence of my work. We believe in each other, we are happy with each other, I think I am doing the things that the owners and the board feel are the right things to do for the future of the football club. They are showing me their ambition, their commitment and their desire to go in the right direction. On top of that, my relationship with the players is really good so I’m really happy to sign the contract and to focus on the club I’m really happy to work at.
What does that stability and long-term planning provide for your players?
Honestly, I think it’s good for them! [Smiles] Even if there are one or two or more that are not happy with my new contract! [Laughs] Even for them it’s good to know that I’m going to stay. This is the tradition of Manchester United, to give confidence to the managers they believe can take the team to the places where the history of the club deserves. But honestly, in all clubs nowadays they change the manager too many times and that is not good for the evolution of the players even as individuals. So I believe the majority of them are really happy I am going to stay and one of the reasons I’m staying is because of them. I’ve always said that. Even in the moments when our results were not the best and we had a defeat or something like that, I have always said my relationship with them is really good and that I really enjoy to work with them, and of course that is fundamental to me.
I think the human side of it. Of course we know they are good players; there are not bad players in a club like Manchester United. I think the human side of it makes a real difference. I’ve been in football for so many years and I’m getting probably my third generation of players and there is an evolution in them, in their mentality, in their environment, in the people that surrounds them. Their personalities are changing with the years so I think I feel a privileged one to work with such a fantastic group of boys. Between them the relationships are really good. They stick together in good and bad moments. We have worked together for one and a half years… we were thinking about three. That was my initial contract; we have now made the decision to make it clear for everyone that it’s not for three, it’s for four or five and, who knows, more.
Do you thrive on building your team up and putting your stamp on it at Manchester United?
Yes. Of course everybody knows about, and I know about for a long time, the history and the tradition of the club and another thing is the moment where I arrived there was a big gap between the team and the history and tradition of Manchester United and the ambitions every supporter has to go back to that level. But since day one I always felt the owners were very committed with that; they share the ambitions with the fans and the board are working hard and I have the clear feeling that they will never stop until they reach what they want to reach, which is to go back to success. I know that last season we won a few competitions, which was important, especially the Europa League to close that cycle of a club that has won everything in the world of football. But that’s not what we want; we want more and we have a long way to go, but the way we are working I think we will arrive there.
Mourinho: United is perfect for meVideo
I played so many times against United and at Old Trafford with Porto, with Chelsea, with Inter, with Real Madrid, and every time I had a new club I knew that Manchester United was going to be on my way. So I learned what Manchester United is, I learned even as an opponent the meaning that I mentioned before and the history, and now I have the pride to work for such a big club. I know the pressure is more than at a normal club and the expectations are more, I also know that the industry of the media and the pundits and so on, they look to us with special eyes, but I love to work for the club and a club with this dimension and passion, and I don’t feel uncomfortable under that skin. I feel I am ready, I cope well and I will enjoy.
You talk about that pressure and obviously you’ve been at some of the biggest clubs in the world but the scrutiny is arguably a little bit more here - do you enjoy that pressure or do you go home and shut off from it?
Real Madrid, Inter… they are really big clubs too and I learned even in my beginnings in my country at Benfica and Porto, they are big clubs, and they prepare you for the next step. Even Chelsea with Mr Abramovich and the big expectations around what could happen with the football club, that kind of pressure became part of my life. I think if one day if I worked at a different level, I think I will probably miss it. So I try to make it part of my life and live with it, and honestly I enjoy it, there is no problem. Sometimes I feel it is a little bit unfair and a bit difficult for the other industries around the game to give us the credit we deserve. I think it’s difficult to be a Manchester United manager, a Manchester United player, a Manchester United owner and to be on the Manchester United board… even recently and I want to make this clear that it was not me but total credit must go to the owners and the board for signing a player like Alexis Sanchez – they did it. And it looks like it is difficult for people to say ‘well done, you did it in a fantastic way’. He had one and a half feet in another club but they went there and they did it. It looks like it’s hard as well to give credit when we win matches; there is always an 'if' and when a player does fantastically well there is always a negative thing to say, but the reality is that we sell [newspapers] and without Manchester United the industry would be in trouble, so that’s also part of being in such a club.
The challenge is a little bit of déjà vu for me. When I go to Real Madrid in 2010, the club was in a difficult period, not even a Champions League quarter-final for eight years, not a cup for 20-something years, not a league for eight or nine or so years. So I think it’s a little bit like déjà vu; it’s hard but it’s enjoyable. Big club, big expectation but I think when you do it and when you win at it – and I had a little bit of a taste with winning a cup and Europa League – then you feel you are doing it for millions and millions and millions [of fans].
What’s your favourite goal that’s been scored by United in your team here – not necessarily the most important but the one you really enjoyed?
I think I have to go for Zlatan’s goal at Wembley in the last minute of the League Cup. I know it was a League Cup and it’s obviously not the Eldorado of football but it’s a final, it’s Wembley, it’s the last minute, it’s one of these goals that you experience that feeling where you explode with joy on the touchline. It’s also a goal that says it is my first real silverware with the club, so if I had to choose one I would go for that.
[Pauses] It’s hard [to think of just one]! I don’t know… I think we have had really good games in different fashions. Sometimes people like to sell the idea that there is only one kind of football and match; I don’t share that at all. I think the perfect game is the game that goes according to your plan and we had a few. I can remember, for example, the Celta Vigo Europa League semi-final away and I think we could have been there playing for 10 hours and we wouldn’t concede a goal, and we should have scored more than we did. We played like you have to play in a European competition semi-final. Also the final against Ajax, the team was like a Swiss watch; I have to say Tag Heuer because it’s our sponsor or Hublot because it’s my sponsor! [Laughs] But everything was perfection. I think in the Premier League we also had this kind of feeling [in some games] from minute one where you feel like you are going to win. So lots of good moments and also some unacceptable defeats, but that’s part of the evolution of the team too. That unexpected defeat, that unexpected bad performance, that unexpected mistake, I think it’s all part of the evolution of the team.
That’s me. That’s just the way I am. I look to all these generations of players I’ve worked with and I find some that are the same [as me]. I had players in their late 30s and they were amazing in their desire, their motivation and their professionalism. I’ve been around for a long, long time but I started really young so I’m not as old as people think! [Laughs] I’m just 55 [on Friday] but I feel in myself very young, especially as a manager I feel very, very young. So when I said a few months ago it would be impossible to end my career at Manchester United, what I was trying to say was in modern football it is almost impossible to stay 10 to 15 years [at a club]. I was not saying I was going to leave… I want to work for 10 or 15 more [years] because I like to do it and I don’t see myself doing another thing than what I like to do.