We can only speculate there is a traditional Christmas turkey as the focal point of the family feast, but speaking to Chelsea magazine, the Portuguese says he likes to give his family a little bit of Christmas every week of the year as the Blues' schedule means he isn't able to spend all his time at home over the festive season.
In this exclusive interview, the Portuguese also offers advice to any young upstarts looking to emulate his success as a manager, while also revealing one of his favorite goals scored by a team he has coached.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get involved with football coaching who has not played the game to a very high standard?
At the start it’s not easy because some connection with the game is important. There are cases—and I am one example of this—where not being a top player, you become a manager, but there are not many. In my case, I was not a top player; I was a low-level player, but experience of play and being involved in the game is important. I was born the son of a player and I grew up the son of a manager, so I knew a lot about the game and the atmosphere in the game.
If you are not a player, I think you have to go through the other way, which is the academic way. You study a lot—in my case, at a sports university, which is different in Portugal than in England because it looks like here, when you go to sports universities, you go directly into sports science.
In Portugal, you can go to sports university and, after the first two years, go into football methodology, where you just study things related to the game. I think you have to start with passion for the game. Even if somebody is not a top player, if they are really in love with the game and they travel, see people working, see different kinds of football and study what has happened in the past, then I think this is the only possible way for them to get there.
What exactly do you mean when you refer to ‘methodology’?
Methodology is a way of work. It is the way you structure your way of work. When I say methodology, I am speaking about training exercises, the best way to put your ideas into practice. You have to analyze the players you have at your disposal; you have to define a model of play and the tactical systems that you want your team to play with.
After that, you need to have the right exercises to develop and explore the qualities you want your team to have. There are ways of thinking. There are people that prioritize the tactical work, and people that prioritize the physical work. There is also a methodology—and I think I was one of the first to do it—that considers a “global” method.
In every exercise, you have the tactical component, the technical component, the physical component and also the psychological component. So when you build an exercise, you think about all the components together. I prefer this methodology but the best methodology is the one that wins more—it is not any specific one.
As a manager who has worked in almost all major European leagues with top clubs and top players, you have seen lots of beautiful and important goals. Which one was the most dramatic and which one was the most beautiful in your opinion?
I would say the Porto goal at Old Trafford in 2004 was the most dramatic, because it was a goal that opened the door for Porto to win the Champions League and it eliminated Manchester United in the last minute of the game.
I have seen so many beautiful goals. At Real Madrid I had Cristiano [Ronaldo] scoring amazing goals; at Inter I had [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic scoring amazing goals too; at Chelsea I had Didier [Drogba] scoring beautiful headers and [Frank] Lampard has scored amazing goals from outside the box.
I don’t know because I have seen so many great goals from so many great players. Some were more artistic, some were long distance. I remember one goal, during Genoa versus Inter, which was the goal that Pele always wanted to score. You know about the goal Pele always wanted to score, straight from the goalkeeper’s kick? Well, Stankovic scored that goal. Pele almost did it; and Stankovic did it, against Genoa. The goalkeeper’s kick and... boom... first time, from 60 metres. I had so many incredible goals.
Do you see 4-3-3 becoming more prevalent this season over last year’s 4-2-3-1?
I think there is no big difference between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. It is more adapted to the opponent and more adapted to the players you have at your disposal, but it is not a big difference.
What I do think is that 4-4-2 is rare now. Why? For two reasons. Firstly, you go from country to country and you have championships full of No. 7s, No. 10s and No. 11s—wingers, fake wingers, people to play behind the striker, creative people, fast people, dribbling people.
If you want to buy one of these players, you can buy 100. There are players like this in Portugal, in Spain, in France, in Germany, in England, in Brazil, in Argentina, everywhere. It looks like the kids now go to academies and where, before, they had said, “I want to be a striker”, or “I want to be a central defender”, it looks now like everybody wants to be a No. 10. Then, because not everybody can be a No. 10, some of them go to the right, some of them go to the left, but they all become 7s, 10s and 11s.
After that, because many teams play like this, with an accumulation of players inside, their opponents find it difficult to play 4-4-2 because they also need players accumulated in the centre of the pitch to compete against passing teams who have so many people inside. So, because of these two factors together, there is not a lot of 4-4-2 and a lot of 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, depending on the players and the opponents.
Given the Chelsea match schedule, what is Christmas like in the Mourinho household?
First of all, you have to make sacrifices with your own family time because you don’t have any choice. At the same time, you have to show your family that this is also special; that you are doing something special. You are giving other people and families what they want when they are together in this period.
People want to be together and enjoy their home lives in this period, but also watching football. They want to go to the game, and instead of only the father going, for example, he tries to bring his wife and kids as well because it’s Christmas.
So we are giving something special. We are taking time away from our families but we are giving to other families. My family understands that is part of my job and that we are also giving something special to all these other families.
The other thing to do is to try and give your family a bit of Christmas every other day of the year! You have to try to have the feeling and emotion that people have in their house at this time of the year—not just for one week, but a little bit every week.
• The latest edition of Chelsea magazine will be available to download on your tablet from Dec. 9 at www.chelseafc.com/mobile
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