In an alternate universe, a long time ago (four years and 5 months, to be exact)…
After two trophy-less years, the Barcelona board of directors and technical director Txiki Beguiristain came to the conclusion that Frank Rijkaard was no longer the right man for the job. After spending a long, hard summer weighing different options, they decided to give it to one of the most successful managers in football at the time, Jose Mourinho.
From the archives of the Barcelona Football Blog, we bring you his very first press conference at the Camp Nou.
Mr Mourinho, welcome to Barcelona. Is this a dream come true for you?
I want to follow a dream, yes, it’s true, but one thing is to follow the dream, another thing is to follow an obsession. I am Jose Mourinho and I don’t change. I arrive with all my qualities and my defects. Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m a special one. I am the best trainer in the world and I am Portuguese.
Your predecessor won 2 league titles and a Champion’s League trophy. Do you think you can do better?
I follow a Dutch manager and it can’t be easy when you follow a manager who thinks very differently. The difference between Rijkaard and me is that when I leave Barcelona I won’t go to Galatasaray. My history as a manager cannot be compared to his. I think he is one of those people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families.
Uhhh…Ok. How will you get the best out of our players?
Football is a game about feelings and intelligence. The only thing I would like is to have more control of the game in terms of possession. In five years I have never had a match where my team has had less possession than the opponents. I have to train against 10 men, how to play against 10 men, because when Chelsea come here, they finish with 10. When Inter come here, they finish with 10 and I have to train to play against 10 men because it can happen again.
What about La Masía? Can you count on our youth players?
Young players are a little bit like melons. Only when you open and taste the melon are you 100% sure that the melon is good. Sometimes you have beautiful melons but they don’t taste very good.
I’m sorry… did you say melons?
It is omelettes and eggs. No eggs – no omelettes! It depends on the quality of the eggs.
Ok, then… Let’s move on. Are you going to play beautiful football?
Football is a more beautiful game in high definition. I intend to give my best, to improve things and to create the football team in relation to my image and my football philosophy. The negative side of football. The negative side of our society. I am Mourinhista. Unhappy is a nice word. The world is competitive, aggressive and selfish.
But don’t you think our players are best suited to play an attractive style of football?
I have always said that my players are the best of the world. but players don’t win you trophies, teams win trophies. Barça might have 20 superb players but they play with 11 and often against 10. I hate to speak about individuals. The Barcelona players have tried to provoke my players.
Mr. Mourinho, I don’t understand. The Barcelona players are your players.
Exactly! We have to learn from intelligent people. What Dani Alves said, Einstein couldn’t have said better. His country was discovered by the Portuguese but we haven’t invented football. He is completely right. We have top players and, sorry if I’m arrogant, we have a top manager. If I have to rate myself, I give myself an 11 out of 10. I am absolutely sure we will be champions next season.
And what is your plan for the Champion’s League?
How do you say cheating in Catalan? I won a Champion’s League with the scandal at Old Trafford and I won a Champion’s League with the scandal at the San Siro.
How will you deal with the pressure at a team like F.C. Barcelona?
Pressure? There is no pressure. Bird Flu is pressure. No, you laugh, but I am being serious. I am more worried about the swan then I am about football. What pressure? Pressure is millions of parents around the world with no money to feed their children. I don’t know if it is the publicity for UNICEF, but there is no pressure at Barcelona.
What do you think has made you such a good manager?
I was more influenced by Barça’s philosophy than by any other coach. They were four years of my life that were absolutely fundamental. Van Gaal is worried about the referee. My team deserves to be defended against referee errors, but it does not always have to be me. I prefer not to make any comments. We have a general director and other board members, this is their job. Is Mourinho the only one who can look at the fixtures and find something very strange?
Please tell us more about the time you spent here in Catalunya.
Barcelona is a great cultural city. I will never forget the four years I was here as an assistant. The crowd is magnificent, singing “F**k off, Mourinho!” and so on….
So do you think the culés hate you?
If I am hated at Barcelona, it is their problem but not mine. Jesus Christ was not nice to everybody either. Look at my haircut. I am ready for war!
I am not that stupid to think that this hatred can be transformed into love. I respect Barcelona a lot. I will work harder, but I cannot perform miracles, I am neither Merlin nor Harry Potter. It’s just a haircut.