Jose wind-up: Mancini may be gone by time City win big one, says Mourinho
21:30 GMT, 17 September 2012
21:30 GMT, 17 September 2012
According to Jose Mourinho, Manchester City will win the Champions League at some point soon.
He mischievously suggested it might not be with Roberto Mancini in charge, a remark that pointed to an enduring tension between two former Inter Milan managers.
But Mourinho considers the English champions to be on the same trajectory as the Chelsea team he once guided to success, one that will have the same glorious ending, with the mega-rich owner getting his hands on ‘the big cup’.
Raring to go: Real Madrid train ahead of their Champions League clash with Manchester City
‘I don’t think it’s very different,’ said Mourinho. ‘Since Roman bought the club, Ranieri was first coach. After that I come and we won the first league, the cups, more titles. Carlo came and kept winning and finally they won the Champions League.
‘City was Mark Hughes, I think, as the first coach with the new owners. He started to spend money and buy good players, then Roberto comes, doing good work, spending more money, buying better players and building an incredible squad.
‘I don’t know if it will be this season or next season, whether with Roberto or somebody else, but in the future, normally, in the direction the club are going, sooner or later they can win the big cup.’
Keeping an eye on you: Ronaldo takes a rest from training as Jose Mourinho looks on
If Mourinho is to win the big cup for a third time before he moves on, it had better be sooner rather than later. The pressure is increasing after two defeats in his side’s first four league games.
It adds to the significance of a match that already carries far greater importance than the opening encounter of the Champions League group stage perhaps should. But then, for both teams and for both managers, Europe is central to their ambitions this season.
For Mourinho and Mancini, last season was about winning their leagues, and with that mission accomplished, success in the Champions League is what their employers expect.
The expectations at Madrid might be that little bit higher than in Manchester. While City’s owners would no doubt accept reaching the latter stages of the competition after the chaos and disappointment of the last campaign, the Madrid board have brought Mourinho in to deliver a first European Cup since 2002 in an era of dominance for Barcelona. He has broken the Catalan stranglehold on La Liga. Now he must do the same in the Champions League.
Somewhere to go Mourinho hopes to lead his side to victory against City
Joking around: Michael Essien (left) trains after making his move from Chelsea to Madrid
If he succeeds he really would be ‘The Only One’, as he now likes to be
called. Not just the first manager to win the league in England, Italy
and Spain but the first to win the Champions League with three different
Of course, reaching the knockout stage is a challenge in itself when
Group D brings together the champions of Germany and Holland as well as
Spain and England. Mancini stressed as much, aware of how difficult his
side’s first away game proved in Munich last season.
‘It is important now that we go in the second stage,’ said the Italian.
‘We have to work hard. After February we see what happens. But it is
very important to start the group well.’
This promises to be a fascinating contest, and not least in midfield
where Yaya Toure, Javi Garcia and James Milner will have to match the
flair and finesse of Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira.
Main man: Mourinho shrugged off any problems during his press conference in Madrid
Judging by what he was saying, Mancini will be more cautious
than he was in Munich, even if he now thinks he is at the wheel of a
Ferrari rather than a Fiat, with Sergio Aguero likely to start as a lone
That would leave Carlos Tevez on the bench, a place where his City
career seemed to self-immolate in Munich this time last year.
unhappy Tevez might be about that, his pique cannot match that of
Cristiano Ronaldo, whose sulk can only be good news for City.
That said, Madrid have proved themselves something of a force under
Mourinho at the Bernabeu. They won all six of their Champions League
games here last season for a start, and have never lost the first home
game of this competition.
It is also asking a lot to expect City to have mastered top-level
European football in only their second season, a stage at which both
Manchester United and Arsenal failed to emerge from their groups.
There is a feeling, though, that Madrid are in a slight state of
disarray. Mourinho complained of not having ‘a team’ as Real lost at
Sevilla on Saturday night; of wanting to make seven changes.
By Monday afternoon at Madrid’s training ground there was an unflattering comparison with the Inter Milan players he guided to European success in 2010 in this very stadium.
‘I can’t compare different periods, I can’t compare different teams, different episodes,’ he said. ‘I can’t compare the natural talent of my team at Inter Milan and at Real Madrid. I can’t compare the hunger every day of my team at Inter Milan and my team at Real Madrid. They are completely different realities.’
If Mourinho believes the Spanish members of the side have left their hearts and minds in Kiev after more international success, he had a response. ‘Life in football is about today and tomorrow,’ he said. ‘Yesterday is history. You can win five, 20 or 30 titles. These become part of history. Yesterday is water under the bridge.’
Mancini certainly hopes so. This is a new European adventure, with what he would like to think is a City side far better equipped for the road ahead.