Jose Mourinho has been discussing both his and Steve McClaren’s decision to move abroad in search of career progress, while also recalling his memories of a man etched in the history of Derby County, and indeed British football.
In 2004, our manager left his native Portugal to move to west London, and with further successful spells in Italy and in Spain under his belt, he is well placed to give his verdict on how a broadening of horizons can benefit those involved in the game.
‘I just feel we have to look for markets. We have to open markets not just for ourselves, but also for other people,’ Mourinho explains.
‘People in Portugal, where in this moment lots of coaches are working abroad, say I opened the door for them. It’s an idea that many people have. People are not afraid to go and find a future in other countries and to open doors for other people to follow them.
‘To go abroad is a fantastic experience. Sometimes it looks like English players and English managers don’t like to go abroad and what is happening now is that they don’t go abroad but others are coming to their country.
‘If there are no jobs in the country, as a manager or a player, you have to go because this is a short professional life. Go and enjoy. You always have the chance to come back.
‘In this country people shouldn’t be afraid to be a bit adventurous likes other coaches from other nationalities are. I don’t feel the English managers are in any point behind the foreign ones. Be a bit adventurous, football is the same everywhere: 11 against 11, one ball, two goals.’
One English manager who did try his luck abroad is Mourinho’s opposite number this afternoon, Steve McClaren. Following an unsuccessful spell as England manager, McClaren took his next post in Holland, joining FC Twente in the summer of 2008. A thrilling two-year reign ensued, and in his second season, he led the club to their first ever Eredivisie title, fending off an extraordinary late charge by Ajax – who won their last 14 league games – to win the league by a point.
McClaren then crossed the German border to take over at Wolfsburg, before another spell at Twente. Mourinho has been considering the impact those foreign ventures had on his career.
‘I spoke with him to say congratulations when he was a champion in Holland at an important moment of his career, after such a difficult part of it,’ says the Chelsea manager.
‘I see Steve as a very intelligent guy, and when he got the England job he knew – better than me, because he is English of course – it is a job that is not easy, and if things go wrong the manager’s head will be the first to be in trouble.
‘He suffered, but I think he moved on. He went to Holland, he went to Germany, new cultures, new football, good experiences because they were completely different cultures than England in terms of football.’
One of the greatest managers in British footballing history, Brian Clough, made his name at Derby at a time when managing abroad was unheard of. He won the Rams their maiden top-flight title in 1972, though it was his later exploits that Mourinho recollects.
‘At that time I didn’t analyse things, I just remember Nottingham Forest and the finals they won,’ he says.
‘I remember clearly Mr Clough as the manager in a generation where to be a special manager, like he was, was more difficult than it is now.
‘He is an amazing part of football history. I watched the movie, I don’t know if it’s accurate or not, I read the book, I also don’t know if it’s accurate or not, but you get an insight, you get an idea of the personality as a man, as a manager, and he’s a fantastic part of football history.’
You can listen to live commentary of this afternoon’s game on this website or on Chelsea TV from 2.15pm.
– A clip of Jose Mourinho talking about the tradition of the FA Cup can be viewed above with the full interview available now via the channel’s online access.