Jose Mourinho has spoken in depth about the strong relationship he has built up with Alan Pardew. The Portuguese will be positioned in the Stamford Bridge dugout for the first time since Pardew took up the reigns at Newcastle in 2010, and judging from the warmth with which our manager spoke about his opposite number the pair are likely to enjoy pitting their wits against one another this afternoon.
‘I like Alan. We speak on the phone not every week but almost every week. We are good friends. I had a very good relationship with him even when I was in Italy and Spain,’ explained Mourinho.
‘With some guys we lost contact for some reason, but not with Alan, we were in contact all the time. The relationship started because of Brendan Rodgers, because he was a good friend with Alan, and when he was at Charlton we met each other a couple of times.
‘He lives the game with emotion, and his teams normally reflect what the manager is: a guy that is enthusiastic and lives for the game. Many times, especially at home, you can see Newcastle have dug results out and won in the last minute.
‘His teams are always teams to fight to the end. Alan is that. He can do a big celebration if his team wins in the last minute, he’s an emotional guy and I like that.’
According to Mourinho, Pardew ranks very highly when our manager considers the finest managers in England right now.
‘He was the manager of the season in the Premier League two seasons ago. That’s not for everybody. In that unbelievable season he did with Newcastle he deserved that.
‘If he was not the manager of the season then he wouldn’t be one of the best managers in the Premier League. He put himself in that level.’
Following our last outing, at Manchester City on Monday, Mourinho earned praise from all corners for the way he set his team out to make the most of our own strengths but also capitalise on the few weaknesses City have exposed this season. He outlined what role a management team can play.
‘We belong to the team. We help the team to be better, or not. We help them to win matches, or not. We are part of the team, but I don’t think it’s because of the managers that one team will win the title.
‘It was very good performance at Man City but I was very confident and I was feeling the players were very confident. They were very focused working during the week. It was a big victory, a big result and performance, but the result was not a surprise for me.
‘Maybe we go there next week and lose 5-0. There are not two equal matches, two equal teams. We prepared ourselves very well for that game and all the players performed in a fantastic way. I don’t want to take any more conclusions than that.’
– Live audio commentary of today’s game will be available.