José Mourinho has been speaking in detail for the first time since leaving Manchester United last month, and the Portuguese boss has made it clear that he is hungry to achieve more in football.
Mourinho dismissed any notion that he would consider retirement, while also indicating that he harbours a desire to manage his country, albeit not in the immediate future as he plans his return to the top level of club football.
The former Porto coach was in Doha to work as a pundit for beIN Sports and analyse Qatar’s Asian Cup win over Saudi Arabia. Naturally Mourinho, who was spotted talking with old nemesis Jesualdo Ferreira – currently manager of Al Sadd in the city - ahead of his television appearance, fielded many questions when on air.
Asked if retirement was an option, the 55-year-old was quick to reject any such notion. “No, I’m too young,” he said. “I have been in football for a long, long time, but I will be 56 in a couple of weeks. I’m too young. Where I am going to stay is where I belong. I belong to top level football and that’s where I am going to be.”
I want Seleção, but not yet
Another possibility often put forward is Mourinho taking over his country, but again the Setúbal native said the time was not right to take over the Seleção, although it remains a long-term ambition. “It’s too early for me. People are maybe a bit tired of seeing me on the screen, because I have been there for many years. I went to Porto in 2002 and I have been there since. I have never had the gap years and the years for rest. I want to work all the time. It’s too early for me.
“I want it. I was never a top player, I never played for my country and represented my country directly. I think I represent my county every day of my life, but not directly to be there on the pitch. So I think one day I really want to try that experience of my country, but also the experience of international football – to play a World Cup, to play a Euro, I want that experience, but not yet.”
United, Real Madrid tenures
Inevitably, questions were posed to Mourinho about the nature of his departure from United last month, as well as a variety of subjects including past players and his thoughts on football in the Gulf region. Speaking about his time at United, Mourinho appeared to express dissatisfaction with the structure of the club.
“I think sometimes we comment on what we see, but we don’t know what is behind the scenes that influence what we see. I think that is a fundamental thing," he said.
“If I tell you for example that I consider one of the best jobs of my career was to finish second with Manchester United, you say ‘this guy is crazy, he won 25 titles and he’s saying that a second position was one of his best achievements in football’ but I keep saying this because people don’t know what is going on behind the scenes.”
Mourinho also spoke about his spell in charge of Real Madrid, where recollections of his tenure can often be mixed. “People sometimes forget, because the Champions League is worldwide, that we won the Spanish Cup and a record league title. 100 points. To do that you need to win a lot of matches. And record for goals scored. You can tell a lie one thousand times but it’s still a lie. With Real Madrid we have the record for goals scored in Spanish football.”
Unfair to compare Messi and Ronaldo
Not for the first time, Mourinho was asked for his opinion on the comparisons between Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, whom Mourinho coached for three seasons in Madrid, and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. However, the Portuguese boss said he did not see the value in trying to face the pair off against each other.
“I think it is unfair to both of them when somebody says one is better than the other. I think they are just different. It’s like when I always refuse to compare players from different generations. How can I compare, for example, Pele with M’bappe?! Everything is different now. Impossible to compare.
“When it’s Messi and Ronaldo I think it’s also unfair to compare. The only thing I can say is that when I had Ronaldo on my side, I was a very happy man. And when I had to play against Messi and Ronaldo, I had to think a lot to try and help my team have chances to succeed.
“The thing to admire is the number of years they have stayed at the top. I always say, even with managers I say the same, to win once can happen. To win and win and win is different. As a player you can appear with a ‘boom’ and you appear like a hurricane, but you disappear. These two guys they are there for ten years and everything is about them until the moment they decide enough is enough an someone else can raise the bar.”
By Sean Gillen