Jose Mourinho emphasised that emotions must be put to one side when we face Didier Drogba as an opponent for the first time tomorrow evening.
Speaking ahead of our Champions League knockout tie in Galatasaray tomorrow night, Mourinho contemplated coming up against a man so important in his and Chelsea’s history. He was keen to stress, though, that the focus must be on returning to London with a positive result.
‘I am looking forward to the match because I like to play against the best and Galatasaray are the Turkish champions,’ said our manager.
‘We are going to play to win but we know they are strong. They have many special attacking players and they have lots of goalscorers, we know that. But as I always say, we are trying to build a team for the future and so we are going to play as we always do, by trying to win the game.
‘To face Drogba is difficult. It’s a strange feeling, I have to admit that, but we have to do our job,’ added Mourinho when asked about facing the 35-year-old. ‘We know he wants to do his job too. It’s a strange feeling you have to forget during the game. When players belong to my career they belong to my life, but during the game you have to do your job.’
Galatasaray, now managed by Roberto Mancini, strengthened their squad in the January transfer window and have held on to all their key players, so it is an even stronger team we will face than the one Mourinho overcame 10 months ago when in charge of Real Madrid, according to our manager.
Having progressed to the knockout stage of the competition it is a reality that discussion around who could lift the trophy intensifies. Mourinho feels that progress beyond the last 16 must be made before any bigger conclusions can be drawn.
‘We are not the favourite, that’s obvious,’ he stated. ‘But I think when a team reaches the quarter-finals anything is possible. This round is a very important round for every team because the ones that reach the quarter-final can start having a little feeling even if they are not a favourite.
‘Chelsea won it when they were not a favourite, I won it twice when not a favourite, and I didn’t win it when I was one of the favourites. This competition has space for a surprise because it’s a knockout.’
Following the release of a conversation Mourinho undertook in private, our manager questioned the ethics behind making a private matter public. He also explained why there was no issue between him and Samuel Eto’o, 32, the legendary striker now working under our manager for the second time in his illustrious career.
‘From my perspective the comment is obviously not a good one and it’s obviously not one that I would do in a serious way or an official way: firstly because I don’t make fun, secondly because if there are managers in the world that really defend their players I am obviously one of them, and thirdly because Samuel Eto’o is Samuel Eto’o.
‘He is a four-time Champions League winner – people think three times but it is four times: one in Real Madrid, two in Barcelona, and one with Inter. It was with him that I had the best ever season of my career. He is one of the few players that is working with me in a second different club. A manager never does that when he doesn’t like the player or the person.
‘He has no reason to be upset because also he said a few years ago that I was the only manager in the world that he would never play for and after one year he was playing for me at Inter, and a few years later he is playing with me here at Chelsea, so there is no story.’