Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: 'Why I didn't want the England job'
Jose Mourinho has revealed how he considered taking the England manager's job in December 2007 until he realised that the long periods of inactivity involved in international management would drive him to distraction.
In the second part of an extensive interview with Mourinho, undertaken while the club were on the Jakarta leg of their Asia tour last week, the Chelsea manager spoke about the Football Association's approach to him after Steve McClaren's dismissal in November 2007. The FA have always insisted that the man they subsequently appointed, Fabio Capello, was their first choice for the job, although Mourinho's version of events contradicts that.
McClaren was dismissed after England's 3-2 defeat to Croatia at Wembley on 21 November meant that the team did not qualify for Euro 2008 the following summer. Their next scheduled game after that qualifier was a friendly against Switzerland the following February, although it was the subsequent game against France in March that Mourinho recalled.
Mourinho said: "My plan at that time was just to try to motivate myself for a job [with England] that doesn't fulfil me. What do I do? During the day I'm not training players, so I have to go and see them train in their clubs. I have to send my goalkeeper coach to work separately. I have to do this, I have to do that. At weekends I see every match. I need a good apartment. I need to analyse and monitor the players.
"When they [the FA] were speaking to me about it, the next match was France against England, a friendly in Paris. I thought, 'France-England [is an attractive prospect]'. After that what's the next game? The next was one month later against Kazakhstan – no, no, no, no. We had contact and I thought about England. I was very young and I was very proud."
Kazakhstan was the third match of England's qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup finals. There were five further games in the seven months following the France game but, judging by Mourinho's attitude, the prospect of managing England is not one that would appeal to him at any stage of his career.
After a dreadful summer for England's junior teams in which the Under-21s, U-20s and U-19s won one out of nine tournament and competition games, it was intriguing to hear Mourinho's thoughts on the development of young English players. Since his departure in 2007, the Premier League elite have staked the future of youth development on the Elite Player Performance Plan.
When Mourinho left Chelsea the club were in the throes of creating their new academy system, which is still yet to yield a first-team regular – though Ryan Bertrand edges ever closer. In those days, it was Frank Arnesen who led Chelsea's acquisition of foreign and British teenagers from other academies, and now the club at least have a reputation for producing strong junior teams.
Mourinho said he was open-minded about the state of youth development and he regarded Chelsea's academy director, Neil Bath, as "brilliant". The structure of the club has changed considerably since he left in 2007 with Michael Emenalo, the technical director, in a very senior position and a policy of acquiring emergent talent from all over the world still in place.
As for England's performances, Mourinho once again lamented the absence of a feeder-club system in English football that would give young players an opportunity to play together in a competitive environment. "In Portugal and Spain the second team plays in the championship and it is very productive. They cannot be promoted, of course, but they can be relegated. And it's a real competition for them.
"I know it's difficult in England. But I'm just curious reading about the situation. Because it's sad when the Under-20s draw against Iraq. The Under-21s, they go and lose against Israel. It's not normal when they [England] have the best football [league]."
Mourinho said he had learned a great deal about boys' football from the experience of his son, Jose Jnr, now 13, in Madrid. "I'm very curious about English youth football," he said. "I have to smell it. If I can support it with my experience I will… I need to understand how the competition is working.
"For example in Spain, my kid, now he's 13, but even when he was 10 he was playing in the championship with 16 teams, 30 official matches in the league, playing 30 matches in the Madrid area with the best teams in Madrid.
"Kids of 10, they played international tournaments in the summer, at Christmas, at Easter, at Carnival [in February]. They always have five international tournaments during the season. So kids of 10 years old were playing 30 matches in their league and tournaments where they play [many] matches.
"They are there for a week and they play 10 matches against Americans, Italians, Brazilians. It's unbelievable the amount of matches they play. In the region of Madrid they also have the selection [representative team] of the best local players and they have training sessions with the best kids of every competition organised by the federation. And we are talking about kids of 10 years old. So, for me, what we call the competitive calendar is very, very important.
Chelsea play Milan in New York today having won all four pre-season friendlies under Mourinho. He said he was under no pressure from Roman Abramovich to play a certain way, just that "we want to play every match to win, we want to be considered an attacking team. That's what I want, that's what he wants".
Jose quite fancies Liverpool for the title
"I think to start there will be six teams. There is still more than a month for the transfer window to close. It depends on that. In these six teams a lot can happen. Probably many people think Liverpool. Why not? They have a great coach [Brendan Rodgers] and he is there for the second year. He had one year to start with his ideas so why not Liverpool? Tottenham – why not? Because they don't have that winning culture of the last years? That's not the point. The point is the squad they have, which is fantastic, and again it's the second season for Andre [Villas-Boas]. Arsenal is Arsenal and probably they will be a better team. Chelsea is Chelsea. Manchester City and Manchester United, the champions of the last two years. Probably by December it will be five or four but to start I would say all six."
Belfast Telegraph Digital