Jose Mourinho on his ‘eggs-cellent’ squad and Chelsea love affair

Jose Mourinho reflects on the past six years as the Chelsea manager returns to the Champions League fold at Stamford Bridge

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho signed a four-year deal with Chelsea in June Photo: The Sport Review

Ahead of his final Champions League match in charge of Chelsea in 2007, Jose Mourinho criticised Blues owner Roman Abramovich for the club’s inability to buy quality players.

The Portuguese coach famously mused that with no eggs, he could make no omelettes. Chelsea surprisingly drew 1-1 with Norwegian side Rosenborg and Mourinho left “by mutual consent” two days later.

Fast forward almost six years, and Mourinho is notably happier with the strength of his squad, but the Blues boss insists his players – likening them to eggs – still need nurturing before hatching.

“Beautiful, young eggs. Eggs that need a mum – in this case a dad – to take care of them, to keep them warm during the winter, to bring the blanket and work and improve them,” Mourinho told a news conference ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League opener against Basel.

“One day the moment will arrive when the weather changes, the sun rises, and you break the eggs then the eggs are ready to go for life at the top level.”

During Mourinho’s six seasons away from Stamford Bridge, the Blues have suffered further semi-final and final heartbreak before eventually lifting the trophy with Roberto Di Matteo at helm.

Many of Mourinho’s generals were in the squad – such as Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry – but the current Blues boss was more than happy to see the Italian succeed where he failed.

Asked if he was envious of Di Matteo, he promptly replied: “No, for God’s sake no.”

He added: “Chelsea over the years – the football club, the players, the fans and the owner – all deserved to win it one day because if you go to the history before, it is a hard history to take – it is a hard history to keep fighting for.

“It starts in my time with the semi-final we lost. The next year we lose the semi-final on penalties.

“The season afterwards, they lose in the final on penalties again. United score one more penalty than them but it is hard to take.

“After that it comes with the beautiful moment against Barcelona with that referee from Norway. It was a semi-final [and] it was hard to take.

“The history is difficult and some of the players were involved in every match. The fans were involved, so was the owner.

“When Chelsea won the Champions League, they probably did it in the one year nobody was expecting. The gods of football made justice with a group of players that did so much to try and win that cup.”

Of course, Mourinho has hardly endured a silverware drought since leaving west London. He led Inter Milan to two Serie A titles, including a memorable treble haul in 2010.

The Portuguese coach masterminded a 3-1 aggregate victory over the Blues, including a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge during that spell. Mourinho, who lifted the Champions League trophy with Porto in 2004, also claimed La Liga and Copa del Rey titles during his spell at Madrid.

But Mourinho insists Chelsea remains his favourite club.

“Yes [Chelsea are my favourite club to manage in Champions League],” he continued.

“As I was saying, it probably seems a contradiction because I won it with Porto and Inter Milan, so I have to say that they were special clubs for me, clubs which gave me two great moments in my professional career.

“But for many reasons here is where I feel at home in every aspect. But as a professional you love the club and the people so much you have one more reason to do good things for the club.”

Mourinho was reported to have a fractious relationship with Abramovich during his first stint at Chelsea, with his “eggs” rant giving an insight into the tensions between the pair.

But the 50-year-old’s love for the Blues – and the Premier League as a whole – never evaporated despite his move to Serie A, and he spoke gushingly about the lure of England.

“I like the country. I like the city. I like the social life. I like the sport. I like all the characteristics of the Premier League,” he added.

“I have a fantastic time in here. Most of the people I worked with are still at the club. The supporters gave me everything. They give me everything. It’s the first time I left my country and the fans, they give me absolutely everything.

“They didn’t need a long time to do it. After two matches, the connection was there. The empathy was there. So it’s easy to say. After that, I found a club where I was feeling almost in the same relation.

“I loved it at Inter. But the football country was different. I didn’t enjoy it so much. I connected with Chelsea and English football. In my three experiences abroad and in my country, [Chelsea] it’s my favourite.”

Such was his obvious affection for Chelsea, Mourinho was asked how his wife felt about his love affair with the west London club.

In typical Happy One fashion, Mourinho replied succinctly: “My wife is not jealous because she knows how much I love her.”

However, on Wednesday, Mrs Mourinho will have to take a back seat as the Chelsea manager reacquaints himself with Champions League nights at Stamford Bridge.

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