Modern day football spectators might think Mourinho is an angry, bitter, sulky man. However, it hasn’t always been so. The young Portuguese has always had a way with words.
But his first spell at Chelsea, many a time, the press found him irresistibly charming.
The year was 2005, April and Manchester United were in hot pursuit of table toppers Chelsea for the Premier League title.
There were reports of furious disputes of Mourinho with Peter Kenyon and other Chelsea executives. There was the issue of loss of form for his key players.
The press was naturally inclined to ask how much pressure did the Chelsea manager feel.
For me, pressure is bird flu; I am feeling a lot of pressure with the swan in Scotland
There were some chuckles which broke into the room.
I am serious. You are laughing but I am serious. I am more scared of the bird flu than football. What is football compared with life?
A swan with bird flu, for me, that is the drama of the last two days. I have to buy some masks and stuff. I am serious. Maybe for my team as well.
This was not the spiky, sneering Chelsea manager sometimes seen before but rather an engaging and entertaining character apparently giving his time willingly. After so many negative reports about the club in recent weeks, the Stamford Bridge public-relations team must have wished that every football fan in the world could have crammed into the room to witness the warmth of their manager.
“[The media] have already told that I want to leave or that Chelsea want me to leave or that I have a lot of problems with Peter Kenyon and with the dog and with the cat,” said Mourinho. “I [am supposed to] have problems with everybody.
“But I think it’s a good opportunity to say – again – that I have a contract until 2010, and I want to be here. We are preparing the next season. I don’t believe the club is preparing the next season with me if they think I’m not here the next season. I have a contract and I want to stay.”
There were comparisons beginning to form with Devon Loch’s infamous Grand National collapse. As Chelsea lost to Fulham and drew a lowly Birmingham, their lead on Manchester United, once 15 points, reduced to a seven with six games to go.
“I tell you a story, because in Portugal there are no Devon Lochs and no horses,” he smiled. “We’re in the sea and we’re in a boat and the boat is one mile from the beach. I jump, because I’m a good swimmer, and this fellow wants to chase me, wants to come with me to the beach.
“I go, lots of different styles, I go, he goes, he goes, he goes. I come to the beach and walk on the beach. He comes to the beach, he dies. We call it ‘Dying on the beach.’ He shouldn’t chase me! He should say to the boat, ‘please take me a little bit closer!’ He’s so enthusiastic chasing me, bah, bah, bah, bah, but has a heart attack. That’s our Devon Loch.”
Mourinho, ever the pragmatic, had done his Maths.
“Because I can win my fourth consecutive title and [even] if United beat Arsenal, the difference can still be seven points if Chelsea beat West Ham.
And the difference is United people will watch Chelsea against West Ham with a very high heartbeat and we can watch Man United against Arsenal very calm, very cool. So I am not happy with the results but a seven-point lead, I am very happy with.”
“Our bad results in the last two or three months have always been away from home, never at home,” he said. “And if we win our matches at home, we are champions.”