Other than appearances in support of presidential candidates, both in his home country of Portugal (the candidate he endorsed, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa won the elections a couple weeks ago) and in England to back UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino in his candidacy for FIFA president, Jose Mourinho has stayed out of the public spotlight since his sacking by Chelsea a couple months ago. While he remained prominent in our minds and the media rumor mill as the next Manchester United manager, Mourinho had not granted any actual interviews … until now!
Though as GQ’s lucky reporter Jason Barlow points out, expecting Jose to reveal anything specific about his future or his recent past in this interview would be a silly exercise in frustration and heavy silences. But that won’t prevent us from reading between the lines. And also admiring this interesting new Jaguar crossover that he’s apparently promoting. Hello there, good-looking.
So, onto the football. “At this moment I don’t have a job, and I don’t know where football will take me, because in football you never know. But for sure for sure for sure, as a family, our home will still be England, our home will be in London. But obviously I am ready to move. As a professional, I am ready to move, especially because football in London for me, in terms of clubs… I think it is clear that I have to move.”
Oof, that’s a heavy ellipsis there after “London club”… We can probably rule out a third go- around with Chelsea, certainly for now, and possibly for ever. But it’s not like we don’t all already know the worst kept secret currently in football, that he will go up to Manchester. Close enough for family, far enough away for business.
But what about the start of the season? Any clues as to what he thinks may have gone so wrong at Chelsea? “But really, football is not pressure for me – it is a privilege. I cope because it’s easy to cope with something you like very, very much. That is why sometimes I don’t understand when players don’t enjoy their professional life. This is the kind of job were you are very well-paid, but at the same time you live the dreams you had as a kid. I think a 90-minute match is more pressure for the people that love us, the people outside. It’s why I sometimes have some conflicts with people who don’t share the same philosophy. You are in a sport to compete, you want to win, you hate to lose, you win once, so you want to win twice… When you are tired you can go home, and give up your place to someone else.”
We’re reminded of his “serial winners” comments back in the fall, trying to challenge the team and shake the players out of their stupor. And of course our ominous pre-season that included not only fake results but fake transfers, both of which turned out to have a far more telling effect on the rest of our season that we had feared at the time. “It depends. I always think you need new challenges, but there are different ways of getting new challenges. For example, if you are in a club that wins, if you want to win again you have to create instability in the winners. And to create instability in the winners you have to make them doubt, you have to buy new players, you have to make them feel not in their comfort zone. There is a normal tendency to go to your comfort zone. If you don’t react, if you believe that just because you won in one year that you are going to win again, it’s very difficult.”
On thing is clear, Jose’s ready and itching to get back into the football, ready to continue learning, ready to continue striving for perfection. “No, I am not enjoying it. I can have everything I love at the same time. I can have my family, I can have my friends, I can have my quiet life, which I also like, and I can have my football… I can have everything together and I don’t need to give up on one of them. To be fully happy I need everything, so I go back to football. I think it’s my natural habitat. I have worked since I can remember, and as a manager since 2000. I stopped when I left Chelsea in 2007, for a few months, and now is the second time I stop in 15 or 16 years, so it is not a drama. But for sure, I will be back soon.”
With Guardiola at City and Mourinho and United, plus Klopp at Liverpool, the epicenter of English football looks ready to shift back up north. Chelsea will have to double down and fly not only the Blue flag, but the London flag high again.
This article first appeared on GQ