Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho said that mounting a title pursuit with an elite club is more challenging than life competing as underdogs with a smaller team as his Blues prepare for the visit to of newly promoted (to the English Premier League) Queens Park Rangers to his current league-leading Chelsea side.
At Chelsea and Internazionale in the years since he has been charged with ending lengthy waits for significant silverware, while at Real Madrid he confronted a Barcelona team arguably in their pomp.
“Every club I went to was a big club, but not the best [at the time],” he said.
“Not the one with most resources. Not the one in the best conditions to win. Big clubs with big expectations, yes, but not in that particular moment in the best conditions to win. Even at Inter: 50 years without winning a Champions League, and that was what we had to change. Not win the scudetto. We were there to win the Champions’ League.”
“All big teams, big expectations, but not the best situations, so big challenges. In a certain way more challenging than working in a small team. When I did work in a small team, I was third in January and, because of that, I went to a big club. I enjoyed that [challenge] very much.”
“Leiria had told me to play young players but stay in the top flight. In Portugal at that time you could stay in the division with less than 40 points, but in January we were already on 41 or 43, third in the league, playing every game in a very cool way because our objectives had been reached very early. After that, it was fantastic experience.”
“I would go back [to a small club] if I didn’t have a big one. I don’t think anyone likes to change from big to smaller, and from big expectations and projects to small ones.”
“For me the situation is clear: I want to work 15 or 20 more years. If, during this time, I do well enough to stay in a top level club, I will. If I don’t do well enough, and my market changes and I only have smaller clubs waiting for me, I will. Because I repeat, I want to work if I’m physically and mentally strong enough – which I expect to be – for another 15 to 20 years. And, when you reach the top, you want to stay at the top. That’s normal.”
QPR boss Harry Redknapp believes Mourinho “could end up as the greatest manager of all time”, but suggested than even the Portuguese manager might find it difficult to make an impact at a club struggling at the other end of the division.
“Every year I look at the manager of the year awards,” said Redknapp.
“When I see the people who win it at the big clubs I think it should be given to a Tony Pulis or a Steve Bruce. It’s too easy to vote for one of the teams that have got everything.”
“It wouldn’t be easy [for Mourinho]. He is not going to walk into a team in the bottom four or five at the moment and turn them into a top six team. That’s not going to happen as clever as he might be – and he is very clever. They’re in a position where they can go and get the best players.”
Redknapp thinks Mourinho could create a dynasty at Stamford Bridge in the style former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson did at Old Trafford if he decides to stay beyond his usual pattern of two-to-three seasons per club before moving on.
“I think he can do what Fergie did at Manchester United,” Redknapp insisted.
“His record could be up there with the very best in the world.”
Mourinho added: “Every job is difficult.”
“Every job has some expectations. When you are at a small club wanting to stay in a division, it’s a hard job. When you are in mid-table and the ambition is to finish top six and in a European position, it’s difficult too. Every job has specific difficulties, but I don’t think being a football manager is an easy job for anyone.”