Jose Mourinho speaks exclusively for Sky Sports about Manchester United, his relationship with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the improvement of Chris Smalling, plans for a second year at Roma and a future after ties to Newcastle.
Roma will face Feyenoord in the European Conference League on 25 May after knocking out Leicester in the semifinals. Roma have not won European competition for 50 years since beating Blackpool in the 1972 Anglo-Italian Cup, but Mourinho will now try to complete the set after his past victories in the Champions League and Europa League.
While he was in Italy and following the action of the European League, Sky Sports’ Gary Cotterill spent some time with Mourinho and discussed a number of topics …
Jose about Manchester United, Mkhitaryan and ‘Smalldini’ …
“Me [Mkhitaryan] together they won three titles [Community Shield, League Cup, Europa League] at Man United, unfortunately the last three Man United titles. I say ‘unfortunately’ because, yes, I like the club very, very much and I wish the club all the best.
“We won three titles together so everything went well. In the second season, we were together, it was a little different. What makes me very happy is because at first people try to go negative and say, ‘Miki and Jose have no chance, Jose is the type when things go wrong, it never goes well again ‘, it turned out to be just the opposite. We were very mature, honest with each other at the time, even with Mina (Raiola), rest in peace Mino, the discussion was very good.
“I always try to be very honest with the players. I saw that my project in Rome needs a player like Miki, I also understand the importance of Miki in the group and he has an amazing season.
“It helps us deal with all the problems we face as a small team. Miki played everywhere, winger, like 10, then we had injuries and Covid situations and he became a central midfielder that he never was in his life.
“I’m so happy with Mickey and I’m happy that people understand with me it’s not all black or white. It’s possible that the player comes with a different attitude than he has in the past.”
“Chris (Smalling) is about finding a balance in his body that allows him to play regularly. He is experienced, has his knowledge and his qualities as a defender. Also tactical in relation to the system the team plays and the defense organization.
“Chris is doing really well this season, playing at a level that makes me very happy for him because he is a fantastic player. In Italy he is recognized as ‘Smalldini’, half Smalling, half (Paolo) Maldini. He works amazingly for us.”
Jose about the second year of the Roma ‘project’ …
“We want to try to enter the Champions League, but when you look at the level of investment in Inter, AC Milan and Juventus, you realize that three of these places should be closed. There is a fourth place, last season it was Atalanta, this season it is Napoli, we can I get there next season? I think we can.
“In this second part of the season, after the January market, we worked a little [changes] enough to improve the team. I’m not as lucky as some coaches who can buy what they want. By doing things with criteria we can improve things. Next season after this year of work and development at every level I think we have a chance and that is the next goal for next season. “
Can Nemanja Matić connect with Jose for the third time?
“I never like to talk about players, I don’t think that’s good for me, the club, the players. Everyone knows my relationship with Nemanja, he’s one of the guys with my trust. We won together, we fought together at United. The same.
“He’s a fantastic player, but that kind of answer is not good for me or the player.”
‘I’m here next season’
“At the moment everything is very calm because I have two more years of contract. The club did not ask me to try to extend so as not to put me in a situation of accepting or not accepting. Everything is calm, stable and so it must be.
“I have to finish the season the best we can and 100 percent start next season because I’m not looking for a change, my people know that. I couldn’t leave the club in my second season, I couldn’t do it in the club. So I’m here next season.
“I learned what Newcastle is and how the club really likes Sir Bobby’s eyes and heart. I am very happy they found their stability. Eddie (Howe) is doing a good job, the club has given tools for change in the January market and I wish them all the best. “