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Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho renew friendship ahead of Champions League tie

21 February 2009 04:35
The mutual respect between the Glaswegian, 67, and the Portuguese, 46, is in little doubt and Mourinho's trip to watch United beat his former club Chelsea 3-0 at Old Trafford last month presented them with the opportunity to discuss potential obstacles in the way of a glass of wine after the first leg at the San Siro.

"We were talking about that and he said it's difficult after games because the televisions will grab him for 45 minutes at a time after games," Ferguson said. "I don't mind drinking it as long as he leaves it."

With United threatening to run away with a third successive Premier League title and Chelsea floundering, it is increasingly easy to forget how dominant Mourinho was as he won successive Premier League titles after arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2004, having knocked United out of the Champions League with Porto the previous season.

But despite Mourinho's departure making life significantly easier for Ferguson, the United manager feels the Portuguese leaving at the start of last season was a blow to the English game and he hopes to see his old rival back in the Premier League, although he took great satisfaction from winning the league in Mourinho's final season in 2007.

"I don't have much time left, he'd better hurry up," Ferguson joked. "I got on very well with him at Chelsea and I think it was a loss to the game when he went. I actually enjoyed watching him on the television. I thought he was good. He was cocky and confident but it was good for the game.

"Right away he came in and said, 'I'm the Special One', and we all thought, 'Who is this?' and his team thought, 'We'd better win here'. They got off to a start like nothing on earth and everybody was chasing their tail for the rest of the season and the next season, so we had to do something about it.

"He came to Chelsea and made that declaration himself. Don't forget he was self-anointed. People then sat up but his achievements are there to be recognised. We won it the final year that Jose was there and I think we were in the ascendancy then. We had to do something about Chelsea and we did it. We can't accept being second so you have to do something about it."

Ferguson expects a stern physical test on Tuesday. "They're a physical, big, powerful team and that's the main issue against them really, their power. I think ability-wise we've got a good chance. They've got the hardest tie in the last 16 and so have we. Certainly if we get through, we'll feel quite elated about it."

Source: Telegraph