Jose Mourinho says taking over as Tottenham manager has left him “smiling for two days” but made a point of telling predecessor Mauricio Pochettino the club would “always be his home”.
Spurs sent shock waves through the Premier League this week when they followed the surprise news of Pochettino’s sacking with the swift appointment of the former Manchester United and Chelsea boss.
Appearing in front of the media for the first time at Tottenham’s Enfield training base, the Portuguese said: “I do it with a bit of sadness, but I have to speak about Mauricio.
“I have to congratulate him for the work he has done. This club will always be his home. This training ground will always be his training ground. The door will always be open for him.
“He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he worked with. The door is always open for him.
“He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”
As for his own feelings at taking over a side who finished as runners-up in last season’s Champions League, he said: “I’ve been smiling for two days.”
I am stronger, I am relaxed, I am motivated, I am ready and I think the players felt that in two daysJose Mourinho
Mourinho appeared fractious and frustrated for much of his time at United, delivering an EFL Cup and the Europa League but falling short of restoring them to the highs of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Invited to elaborate on whether his outlook had changed during a hiatus of almost a year, he added: “I think, I have to believe so.
“I always thought that these 11 months were not a waste of time. They were months to think, to analyse, to prepare. You never lose your DNA, you never lose your identity, but I have time to think about many things. During my career I have made mistakes.
“I am stronger, I am relaxed, I am motivated, I am ready and I think the players felt that in two days. I am ready to support them, this is not about me. It is about the club. I am here to try and help everyone.”
Mourinho is known to be enthused by the quality of the playing staff at his new club, and was even linked with several of them while in charge at Old Trafford.
Yet he would not have been handed this opportunity had Spurs’ form not been in a trough, a fact he acknowledged.
“In relation to the difficulty of the job, every time a club changes in mid-season it is because the situation is not good, that is obvious, unless something strange happened that we don’t know outside,” he said.
“Results make these decisions. I don’t have a great experience of getting teams in mid-season, it is only the second time I have done it.
“I did it in Porto in 2001, but I thought about it for the last few months because I thought I was going to get a team in mid-season.”
The 56-year-old has managed some of European heavyweights – Porto, Real Madrid and Inter Milan as well as his jobs in England – and made it clear the job at Tottenham is one that excites him.
“I know I have a great job on my hands. The potential of the club is huge, the potential of the club is great, the vision that (chairman) Mr (Daniel) Levy put in front of me about his club and the quality of the players, the quality of the squad, were the main reasons why I decided to come.”
Referencing his previous interest in members of the Spurs squad, Mourinho revealed he had delivered a personal message to the group underlining his belief in them.
“I told them that one of the reasons why I decided to come was them. I tried to buy some of them for different clubs, I couldn’t,” he added.
“Some of them I didn’t even try because you know how impossible it is. But I like this squad very, very much. It is not something new I say to make a point.”
Being based in London once again was understood to have been a great draw for Mourinho and his family, but it does place him in close quarters with Chelsea.
He has arguably never been more loved than during his early days at Stamford Bridge and it was a second spell in charge of the club that drew him back to English football in 2013.
Responding to the notion that he was seen as ‘Mr Chelsea’, he demurred.
“I think they have to see me as Mr Inter, Mr Real Madrid, Mr Porto. I am a club man, but (a) many clubs man,” he said.
“I am not Chelsea, I am not Inter, I am not Real Madrid, I am all of them. I gave everything to all of them and that is what I am going to give here.
“I decided to have this adventure, go to different countries, until what I call the grand slam, England, Spain and Italy. I did it with this passion and then the Premier League, I thought, is my natural habitat.”