Jose Mourinho dismisses talk of succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson as he concntrates on job in hand

11 March 2009 01:28
Manchester United v Inter MilanKick-off: Wed Mar 11, 7.45pm; Old Trafford, ManchesterTV: Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports HD2Radio: BBC Radio Five Live

Whether Mourinho is prepared to wait until the redoubtable Scot is 87 remains to be seen but the Special One's fascination with Old Trafford was inescapable.

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He chatted to the groundsman before his Inter Milan side trained on the pitch last night, even had a drink with the former United player, Phil Neville, at Inter's hotel in Manchester on Monday evening. Mourinho also talked of his love for a venue where he was first fully launched into the European limelight five years ago. Porto's late goal sent Mourinho charging towards the corner flag as United departed from Europe.

"That Costinho goal was the goal which opened doors in England for me,'' recalled Mourinho, sitting in the Europa Suite at Old Trafford. "It was the goal that gave us the chance to win the Champions League and our career was never the same. Nobody knew this crazy manager running down the touchline so it was a crucial moment in our career. Our career absolutely changed.''

He believes that Porto's eventual victory in the Champions League that season was a phenomenal achievement because his players were largely unknown, although Deco and company had lifted the Uefa Cup the previous year. "It was a team I started, only with kids. This group of boys that nobody respected came here and beat Manchester United and went on to win the competition – that was something fantastic. I remember that moment very, very well but that's over with. We will now try to do it against a very, very good team.''

His respect for Ferguson runs deep, the pair swapping bottles of improving vintage and rocketing price (Mourinho has just broken the £300 barrier). For all his obvious interest in returning to the Premier League, the former Chelsea manager was determined on Tuesday not to publicise any ambition for the United post when Ferguson eventually rides off into the sunset, his saddle-bags heaving with winners' medals.

"In 20 years maybe?'' Mourinho smiled. "He's tough, he's strong. He's happy, he loves it, he wins, so let him be for 20 more years, I hope.'' He could understand why Ferguson would want to continue with his superlative squad. "They have a top team, lots of options, and are very well organised in defence. They don't concede many.

"In attack they have a group of incredible strikers. He can choose the combinations he wants. If he prefers a targetman he goes for Dimitar Berbatov. If he prefers speed and movement he goes for Carlos Tevez. He has this ammunition in his hands and he is clever in the way he does it.

"United are never predictable. You have to read their game, you have to adapt to them. On the bench they have people who create an impact. They are a very difficult side. But they know that this game will be very difficult for them.''

Suffering from a slight bout of flu, Mourinho's relations with the Italian media certainly seems frosty. "Our Italian friends see football as a drama [a crisis] in difficult moments. I am not like this. Football is never drama. For me, football is always passion and pleasure. That is the feeling I want to give to my players. People in Italy talk for three weeks of the drama if Inter goes out in the last 16. I like to think of a different picture – of Inter knocking out the world champions.''

He has embarrassed Ferguson frequently before, losing only once in 13 occasions. "Old Trafford now looks like home because for four years I came here a lot of times, semi-finals, Carling Cup, FA Cup semis. It became part of my life. I even know the grass-man. He asked me to train on one side because that side has no sun. I know the man, he's a nice guy, so OK I do it.''

And Phil Neville? "He wants to be a manager in the future, so we were speaking about the difficult job I have and the difficult job he will have one day.''


Source: Telegraph