Jose Mourinho has been out of management for just two months, but the Portuguese is already plotting his next move and outlining the conditions that will determine which club is the right fit.
The 56-year-old left Manchester United in December during the early stages of his third season at the club, with speculation rife that Mourinho had a poor relationship with the club hierarchy. As he looks forward to a new challenge, the former Porto boss says long-term ambition and a strong club structure is preferred over short-term desire for trophies.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Mourinho avoided much direct discussion about his time at Old Trafford, keeping to his principle of not speaking about former clubs. However, the man with 25 trophies to his name was keen to point out that his struggles during the second half of his spell in Manchester were a new experience for him.
“People used to say that you learn more with defeat. Maybe there is some truth in it,” he said. “I feel my natural habitat is winning. This is the first time when I didn’t win any trophy for 18 months. Some guys don’t win any trophies for 18 years; I didn’t win any trophies for 18 months. Now I have time for thinking, reflection, trying to understand everything and trying to be more ready for the next one that is coming.
“I know it’s coming. It hasn’t come yet because whatever has come along, I didn’t want. When that job comes, I want to be full of joy, of energy and knowledge.”
Asked what he wants from his next club, Mourinho is clear on the environment he wants to work in. “I don’t want an internal conflict. I want internal empathy. And then your conflict is at the weekend on the pitch when you play against somebody who wants to steal your three points. That’s the moment for the conflict.
Structure needed to deal with modern players
“I don’t know if it is a bad translation from Portuguese to English but focus on these two words: ‘structure’ and ‘empathy’. I want to work with structural empathy. A club is a structure, a complex structure where the manager is an important part of the structure but he is not the structure.
“I want to work in a club that understands there is a structure in place. I don’t want to work in a structure of no coincidence [unity] in the thinking. During my career I have been working in every possible circumstance. The most successful situations are not because of structure but because of the empathy of the structure. People who work well together. People who share the same kind of ideas. That is the fundamental thing.
“You now have a generation of players who are not just players but the whole package. You have the player, the family, the agent, the entourage, the director of communication. You sometimes have the individual’s medical people and in an extreme situation you even have what they call their ‘personal fitness guys’. When you have a player you have all these distractions. And if there is no empathy in the structure of the club you get into so many contradictions that it is really, really difficult to work.”
“If it is a club without ambition, I wouldn’t go”
Mourinho has been linked with a number of jobs since he has been out of work, with Inter and Paris Saint-Germain long-standing speculated destinations in Italy and France. For a man who has not once been out of work during pre-season since he started his managerial career back in 2001, it seems certain Mourinho will be in a new job by the summer, but numerous factors will influence the decision on which will be the 8th club of his career.
“[I want] a club that is not ready to be a trophy-hunter immediately, but with the ambition to be a trophy-hunter. If it is a club without ambition, I wouldn’t go. I refused [the lucrative offer] because I want high-level football and ambitions at the highest level. That is my second item [requirement]. My first item is structural empathy.
“I want to work with people I love. People I want to work with, that I’m happy to work with, with whom I share some ideas. I don’t want to be in a permanent contradiction between what I think and what others think.
“It’s what I had at Inter. There are clubs like this. Normally that is a very important part of a successful club.”
By Sean Gillen