José Mourinho at “El Partido de las 12”
The last two Real Madrid players who spoke with COPE’s “El Partido de las 12” program had to go to the radio program’s studio, but when you’re José Mourinho, the studio comes to you (he’s TSO for a reason, no?). So, the program presenters traveled to Valdebebas yesterday to interview Mou right after the training session, since you can see he’s still in his training outfit. As always, the interview only got really interesting when it got personal. It also looks like Mou got a haircut (in London, I’m betting) and I like the stubble! Have a listen here, or keep reading for my highlights. The highlight of highlights is Mou’s answer to the question of how he feels knowing that he’s the ninth most influential person in the world.
What position is my wife in? Eighth, at least… If I’m not even in charge in my own home…
Q: I don’t know if you like giving in-depth, personal interviews?
A: I don’t like them a lot because I often believe that my words are misinterpreted, so the less I speak, the better for me. But this is Real Madrid, which has this social dimension, and as the coach of Real Madrid, I can’t hide.
Q: Are you going to continue as coach next year?
A: If I’m not kicked out… when I signed for four years, I had the intention of staying all four years. When you leave a champion team like Inter for Real Madrid, it’s not for one year and then goodbye. I want to be here, I want to continue. I feel that the right conditions are in place. I feel that the fans, the players and the directors are with me. If we all unite and believe in this project, well then obviously I’m going to continue.
Q: This is the first time that you’ve stated directly that you want to continue. You were a bit more ambiguous one month ago.
A: I haven’t changed in this. A while back, I said that if we’re all content (directors, players and fans) there’s no reason why I wouldn’t continue. But the truth is that I’m more content now than I was a month ago. Right now, I see the club going in the same direction as me. We have the same thoughts, the same work philosophy, there’s much more empathy in terms of work, because personal empathy has always been very good with the president and with José Ángel Sánchez. I’ve always felt good, but now I feel good on a personal level and on a professional level.
Q: What changed in the last month?
A: The communication is very good, the work that we’re doing as well and we are already looking ahead to the next season, to the future. The club understands me better now. I always say that working with me is easy because I’m an organized, methodical person that doesn’t leave room for doubts. But I also get the feeling that working with me is not easy for my character. And now we all know each other better. The directors know perfectly well how I like to work. With the players, I obviously identify more with them because we work every day together. My relationship with the “presi” is very good, along the lines of my philosophy: if they pay me, it’s me that has to work. It’s not the president that has to worry about day-to-day things. I’m the one that has to take care of those and make life easier for the president. That’s my mission in the club. And with José Ángel, I have a very good work relation, we share a lot of ideas and I’m good.
Q: You’ve talked twice about FP and José Ángel Sánchez, but you haven’t said anything about Jorge Valdano.
A: No, it’s not on purpose. Jorge Valdano has his role in the club. If he has one, it’s because the club is happy with his work. It’s not a problem for me to be in the same club as Jorge Valdano, he’s always been respectful with me and I have no personal issues with him. But my day-to-day work is in Valdebebas, my space, while the “top” of the club is at Concha Espina. I’m very happy with this situation.
Q: Finish this sentence: “My relationship with Jorge Valdano is…”
A: Normal [love it!].
Q: What is the priority for next season, a midfielder or a forward?
A: For me, the most important thing with regards to next season is to win something this season. We have three forwards that are very good: Higuaín, who is ours, Benzema, who is ours, and Adebayor, who can be ours for a certain amount that has already been agreed upon. And we also have Morata, who will one day be the forward of Real Madrid, and who will be a first team player next season. I believe Morata can even play in the position of Cristiano Ronaldo. In the center of the field, we have a number of important players; we have a fairly balanced squad. But it’s normal that Madrid signs a couple of players each summer.
Q: Why have Canales and Pedro León been discounted?
A: We have a squad made up of 24 players and in this moment we have one injured player in Higuaín. The base of the starting team is known. After that, I have to create a bench that is as balanced as possible. I always have a central defender (Albiol or Garay), a fullback (between Arbeloa, Ramos and Marcelo), two midfielders (Lass, if he’s not on the bench he’s starting), a forward (Benzema or Adebayor) and Kaká, who if he’s not starting, has to be on the bench for his quality and what he can bring to the team. And then I have one space left, which is for Granero, Gago, Pedro León or Canales. I try to motivate my players, to call them up alternatively, to try to dole out the minutes, but it’s not an easy situation. Some work harder than others, some are more psychologically resistant to pressure. The life of a Real Madrid player is not easy. You have to know how to suffer, to grow despite difficulties. Some parents or agents prefer to turn their backs to the difficulties and leave to be kings in kingdoms with less pressure. I believe a young player should not turn his back and he should fight to the limit to be king of a kingdom like Real Madrid.
Q: What don’t you like about them, what’s the problem?
A: The problem is having the mental strength to fight against obstacles. Having Özil or Kaká ahead of you is not easy. If you’re a winger and you have Di María and Cristiano ahead of you, it’s not easy to send Cristiano and Di María to the bench, it’s not easy to be behind these players. Adán can continue fighting to be the substitute of Casillas, the best goalkeeper in the world, or he can go to a club where he plays every Sunday and perhaps won’t even need to work. It depends on each one. And people have to adapt to the situation. Adán played the way he played against Espanyol because during seven months he worked as if he were going to start the next game, and he knew perfectly well that was not the case. It’s a question of mentality and education. And we’re here to educate the young players. It’s the same with Morata: Morata won’t start on Madrid because the press asks for it, he will have to earn his starting position as a consequence of his work: scoring goals with Castilla, helping Castilla ascend. And next season, he’ll have to work each day with the first team, learn and wait for his opportunity. And that’s part of the growth process of players.
Q: What is the role of the coach then? Is the role of Mourinho to help them become better?
A: I’m a coach, I’m not their father or their agent. I’m with the players two or three hours a day, and there are 21 more. I try. For example, with Canales, he asked me this year if he should leave in December and I told him no, that he has the quality to stay in Madrid and play 10 years here.
Q: But Canales was in your plans, because at the beginning of the season he started against Mallorca?
A: Yes, he started. And Özil was on the bench. If we had beaten Mallorca 3-0 and he was the man of the match, he would have continued as a starter with Özil on the bench. But it didn’t turn out that way.
Q: Then do you expect more of Canales? It’s like when you expected less of Marcelo and he surprised you.
A: You never know how things are going to turn out. Özil’s adaptation was faster than we all expected. Canales also started the season strongly because he came from playing in the European championship.
Q: How should we interpret seeing Sergio Ramos on the bench the other day keeping in mind that the Champions League is coming up?
A: I like to see the positive aspects of everything. And for me that would be talking about the performance of Arbeloa, since the coach will never receive a negative surprise when Arbeloa is on the field. He won’t score a goal like Marcelo did, we can’t expect him to have a spectacular game on the wing, but normally his direct rival doesn’t touch the ball, or not very much, since he dominates, he controls and he gives his team security. He’s a player that I like a lot. And I believe that with a team like Real, which has a very important offensive dynamic, there should be security in the back. Sergio is a player that I like, he’s a player that I can say will play against Levante. There are no problems with him. In the game against Espanyol, I knew that Callejón was a very rapid, aggressive kid who’s difficult to stop, and Arbeloa gave me security. Marcelo was on the other wing attacking more and he hadn’t played with Brazil. Arbeloa had played 15 minutes with Spain, while Sergio had played 90 minutes.
Q: Will Ramos also start against Lyon?
A: He’ll have to play very well against Levante if he wants to play against Lyon. But if anyone thinks that they’re going to rest on the field against Levante to be 100 percent for Lyon… there is resting at home and resting on the field.
Q: Who will play in Lyon: Adebayor or Benzema?
A: Maybe both. Or neither of the two.
Q: Will I see Madrid beat Barcelona before I die?
A: I’m sure. I have a four-year contract with Madrid and I’m sure it will happen.
Q: Do you want Adebayor to stay?
A: He’s a player that I like. You can’t compare him with Benzema or with Higuaín. They have different characteristics and I’ve always liked having forwards with different characteristics.
Q: What did you think of Raúl’s performance against Valencia?
A: I didn’t see it, I was in London. But it didn’t surprise me and I’m happy for him.
Q: Would Raúl have played a lot this year with Madrid?
A: Without a doubt.
Q: Did you try to convince him to stay?
A: No, I just gave him my opinion. And my opinion is that a player with his prestige and age had to take advantage of the last years of his career in order to be happy.
Q: Is it fundamental for you that Pepe’s contract is extended?
Q: Why do you sometimes try to be controversial in the press conferences?
A: I don’t think I’m polemic. I didn’t start the 13 refereeing mistakes thing, it was the referee that started it. Against Almería, it was Pérez Lasa who make a mistake. Against Osasuna, we lost and I spoke well of the referee. Perhaps I’m aggressive in the way I speak.
Q: How are you at home? What is a free day for you like?
A: The last few, I went to London. On a normal airplane, not private, to visit friends, see Chelsea, spend time with the family. People there respect you and leave you alone.
Q: Can you go out to take a walk in Madrid?
A: It’s a bit more difficult. I have very little spare time, my children are in school and my wife also likes privacy.
Q: Have you had time to take a walk in the Retiro or in the mountains?
Q: Would you like to?
A: I would like to do many things, but it’s not easy.
Q: Would you like your son to be a footballer?
A: I would like him to enjoy his life like I do and to have the same personal satisfaction to feel important in the world where he works. Right now, he’s crazy for football, but I want him to be happy. Studying is the most important thing for him.
Q: Is he a good goalkeeper?
A: That’s not the most important thing. For me the most important thing is the group, with the kids and the fantastic fathers. I get along very well with them. I like the idea that all children should play. Each goalkeeper plays one half. I like the culture of Canillas a lot.
Q: Are you on twitter?
A: No. And not Facebook either. Madrid is working on this. There are a few fake ones and one has millions of followers.
Q: Why is it that, Cristiano aside, Portuguese men don’t like to shave? Doesn’t having a beard itch? [I love the way this question was phrased!!!]
A: I never thought of this. If I shave for two consecutive days, my skin has problems. But right now I have an endorsement contract with Brown to shave every day.
Q: You’ve said that you only fear God. Have you ever thought of what He thinks of you?
A: He has to think that I’m an amazing guy, because otherwise He wouldn’t give me so much. I have an incredible family, my work is what I always dreamed of doing. He’s helped me achieve so many things that He has to think highly of me [José Mourinho, in his purest state!!].
Q: And you can’t ask God for Messi to go hide in a convent or Xavi Hernández to become an astronaut?
A: I like football too much to wish something like that on the great players. Leave them be.
Q: You’re the ninth most influential person in the world, and you’re even ahead of Obama. Are we crazy?
A: What position is my wife in? Eighth, at least. We are crazy. If I’m not even in charge in my own home… [LOVE THIS!!!]
Q: Do you like the refrain of the song “Pa-pa-ramericano?”
A: The players and Óscar Ribot have it on every day in the locker room, so that I can’t stand to hear it now. Then I get home and my son is there with the “pa-paramericano…”
Q: It’s true. You have little control.
A: Very little.
They end with a personal test, as they always do.
A city to live in: London.
A place to get away from it all? My home. I try to find places where no one can find me, but it’s impossible.
Favorite movie: Yesterday I spent three or four hours watching CSI: Las Vegas on DVD.
Favorite actress: No… I believe men are better actors than women [seriously???]. For me, the number one is Anthony Hopkins.
Is Florentino Pérez a “ser superior?” [a superior being, as Butragueño called him]: He’s my president. His words are orders.
Favorite musical group? Bryan Adams [seriously???].
Favorite song? “It’s time.”
Favorite food? I like foie gras, I like expensive paté.
Who do you admire, outside of sports? Many people. I have to choose one? Mandela. It’s the story of an incredible life for a cause that appeared to be impossible.
A dream. La Décima? For me, it would be “La Tercera.” But to start, I want to beat Levante. Then we can talk about other things.