Inter’s Jose Mourinho ‘has nothing to prove to Chelsea’
Champions League last 16 second leg: Chelsea v Inter Milan
Venue: Stamford Bridge Date: Tuesday, 16 March Kick-off: 1945 GMT Coverage: Full commentary BBC London 94.9 fm & Online, BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 live and Sky Sports 2
No Chelsea regrets for Mourinho
Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho says he has “nothing to prove to Chelsea” when he returns to his old club on Tuesday for their Champions League last-16 tie.
Mourinho managed Chelsea for three-and-a-half successful years, and he expects a warm reception at Stamford Bridge.
“The relationship is fantastic. I don’t think I will be booed, I think I’ll be cheered,” said Mourinho.
“Chelsea’s not the point for me, the point is for Inter Milan to get through to the quarter-finals.”
Mourinho was a virtual ever-present on the back pages of the newspapers during his time in England, with his trademark pre and post-match outbursts – not to mention his team’s consistent success – ensuring he was never far from the limelight.
From 2004 until his departure in September 2007, Mourinho brought two Premier League titles, two Carling Cups and one FA Cup to Stamford Bridge, making him the idol of the Chelsea fans and a popular figure with many of the stalwarts of the Stamford Bridge dressing room.
I have nothing to prove to Chelsea, nothing to prove to Chelsea players, to Chelsea fans or to the Chelsea board
Inter boss Jose Mourinho
“At the end of the game I will be ‘the Special One’ win or lose,” said Mourinho, referencing his famous quote at the start of his Chelsea tenure.
The outspoken 47-year-old clearly remains fond of his former club and their fans, but he pledged that those feelings would be put to one side come kick-off on Tuesday.
“Before the game I know everybody and I love them, and after the game I know everybody and I love them – for 90 minutes I know nobody,” he said.
“When they win and I win, I know I am happy for them and they are happy for me – on Tuesday, it’s not possible.”
“I have nothing to prove to Chelsea, nothing to prove to Chelsea players, to Chelsea fans or to the Chelsea board.”
And Mourinho said he would tone down his celebrations if his side were to oust Carlo Ancelotti’s team out of respect for his former employers.
“Yes, I would be more restrained because it’s Chelsea, where I worked for three-and-a-half years,” he said.
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“It’s the same people, the same players and fans. But don’t confuse that emotional control with anything about my desire to win.”
Despite his largely respectful display for a packed media conference that went on for more than 50 minutes in both English and Italian, Mourinho – who won the Serie A title in his first season with Inter – could not resist a sly dig at Chelsea’s fortunes since his departure.
“I keep winning important things. They keep winning something – I think they won the FA Cup,” he said.
And Mourinho was keen to stress just how focused he was on earning the Serie A leaders victory on Tuesday, revealing he repeatedly watched the recording of the first leg, which Inter won 2-1, thanks to goals from Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso.
“I watched Inter Milan v Chelsea seven times and this is not seven times putting the DVD in and letting the DVD run – I watched it seven times, and stop, and go back, and stop again,” he said.
“I gave everything to prepare for this game, and during 90 minutes I will gave everything I can in terms of my way of analysing the game, reading the game as best I can, making the best decisions I possibly can make.
“Players win matches on the pitch, coaches just give a little hope – and I will try to give that little help.”
Former AC Milan boss Ancelotti, though, was keen to play down the significance of Mourinho’s return.
“Jose has great experience because he’s won the Champions League and titles in other countries,” said Ancelotti, who had a prickly relationship with Mourinho when they were both at the helm in Milan last year.
“But I don’t think this will be the difference. The difference will be the different players or the different confidence or different courage or different personality that the team puts on the pitch.”
The first name on Ancelotti’s team-sheet will be third-choice goalkeeper Ross Turnbull because of injuries to Petr Cech and Hilario.
However, Mourinho believes Turnbull’s forced inclusion is of little consequence.
“When I was Chelsea manager we played against Barcelona in the Champions League with our third goalkeeper in goal,” he said.
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“Petr Cech was injured, [Carlo] Cudicini was injured and Hilario made his debut. We played two matches against Barcelona with our third goalkeeper in goal, we beat Barcelona at Stamford Bridge and we drew in Camp Nou.”
Mourinho, meanwhile, gave those Chelsea fans who would love to seem back at the Bridge – and fans of many Premier League clubs, no doubt – more than a little hope when he reiterated his desire to manage in the Premier League in the future.
“I have three things to do in my career. One thing is to get back to English football, another thing is to win the Spanish championship, because nobody has won the Italian, English and Spanish championships.
“And another thing, when I’m old, is to coach my national team.”