Sunday, 30 November 2008

Exlusive Conference With Jose Mourinho (After beat Napoli 2-1)

[FOTO Saturday, 29 November 2008 17:02:03]Mourinho, you said that Zlatan Ibrahimovic wouldn't play in Bremen if Inter were already sure of first place in the Champions League group. Now that you have qualified and with the top spot still to play for, what will you do?

"I still think there's no big difference in finishing first or second. Finishing second means facing teams like Barcelona or Manchester United, and you can get Real Madrid or Chelsea if you finish first. Who says one match is easier than the other. I don't know... I don't know if it willl be easier to play the first match at home or away, only the draw can tell us this. So I don't think finishing first or second is the main problem. The real problem for me is that I don't like qualifying with eight points. It's the mentality that's not right. Okay, we have qualified, but I wouldn't like to come away from the Werder game with eight points. This is the mentality I want my team to have. Experience says that the real Champions League begins at the end of February. A team often finishes with twelve, fourteen or fifteen points and then gets to the last sixteen or quarter-finals mentally tired, tired of playing and winning, and gets knocked out. We'll have to be very strong when the true Champions League starts but I repeat: I don't like finishing the group with eight points. We will go to Bremen to win the match. I don't know if Ibra will play or go on the bench, but there certainly won't be those three days of rest that I had planned for him."

Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri said that the Scudetto will be between just Inter and Milan, and that Juventus will fight for second place. What do you think about this?

"For me, it's hard to say. With a declaration like this, you should try to understand if he really thinks like this when he gives another press conference next week. I can't talk about this, I can say that I watch Juventus and I think they are a good team with great potential, a team that can win any match. And I see Juventus in the same way as I see Milan: as candidates to win the Scudetto. I respect Juventus in the same way. Are Juventus at the same level as Milan? I don't talk about the level of teams, I don't want to something like this that depends a lot on personal opinion. Milan are playing a less demanding competition in Europe, they don't need to be in top form to win their UEFA Cup group. Against Braga, for example, they played with a second-string team, bringing on Seedorf and Ronaldinho with fifteen minutes left. If they were in the Champions League, where you play matches of a different level - something that, luckily, hasn't happened to us because we drew teams like Panathinaikos and Anorthosis, the Rossoneri would have acted differently. Milan have the advantage of playing a competition that isn't as demanding as the Champions League, but I respect Milan and Juventus in the same way. Roma are far off the top of the table but they are a great team. They were far off the top last year and then they were champions with 45 minutes of the season left. And then there's the so-called 'second group' of teams. They are all good teams. Having not had a team from October of last season, I watched loads of matches on television and lots of European football. I might be mistaken, but this season's Serie A is incomparable to last season's. All the teams have improved compared with last season and this brings Napoli, Fiorentina, Genoa, Udinese, Lazio to a level of very high quality that makes our championship very difficult to play and win."

A lot has been said in the week about Didier Drogba, who seems to want to leave Chelsea...
"On the one hand it's easy for me to talk about Drogba, on the other hand it's difficult. It's easy because he's one of those players who was almost like a son for me. We're not the same age, but he's almost like a son for me because of everything we did together. I remember every moment spent with him, from when I told him I wanted him at Chelsea to when he arrived in London and when we won the FA Cup final at Wembley, where he came looking for me like a crazed man in the dressing room before celebrating with the team. I remember every moment with him, so it's easy for me to talk about him. On the other hand, it's difficult to talk about Drogba because he's a Chelsea player, he has a contract, and he's the kind of player who has many teams to choose from if he decides to change. To tell the truth, I haven't spoken with him for a long time. I called him to ask how he was after his injury in the Champions League in September. I was worried, I wanted to know if he needed an operation or not. And then there's the third situation: at Inter we have Crespo, Cruz, Adriano, Ibra, Balotelli... I can understand it when you think immediately about Inter when there's talk of Drogba not being happy at Chelsea, because of my relationship with him, for the my significance in his career and his in mine. Didier is a really special player for me and I think I have been the only important coach for him. I can only say the same about six or seven players at the most. I understand that they talk about us if someone says he's not happy, because to be happy you instantly think he can go where there's a coach who is like a father for him. But it's not like this at all. I hope he regains his happiness, joy and returns to playing at his level, a level that has made him one of the greatest strikers in Europe."

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