José Mourinho says taking over as Tottenham manager has left him “smiling for two days” and made a point of telling his predecessor, Mauricio Pochettino, the club would “always be his home”.
Tottenham sent shockwaves through the Premier League on Wednesday when they followed the surprise news of Pochettino’s sacking with the swift appointment of Mourinho.
Appearing in front of the media for the first time at the club’s training base, the Portuguese said: “I do it with a bit of sadness but I have to speak about Mauricio. I have to congratulate him for the work he has done. This club will always be his home. This training ground will always be his training ground. The door will always be open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”
Pochettino has stayed silent since his sacking on Tuesday but Jesus Perez, his assistant at Spurs, has tweeted a picture of the Argentinian writing a farewell message to his players on a whiteboard.
The tweet, which also featured a #COYS (Come On You Spurs) hashtag and a blue heart, shows Pochettino writing on a tactics board. His message reads: “Big thanks to you all! We can’t to [sic] say goodbye … you will always be in our heart.”
Mourinho appeared fractious and frustrated for much of his time at Manchester United, delivering the Carabao Cup and the Europa League but falling short of restoring them to the highs of the Sir Alex Ferguson era and, subsequently, being sacked as manager 11 months ago.
Asked to elaborate on whether his outlook had changed during his hiatus, he said: “I think, I have to believe so. I always thought these 11 months were not a waste of time. They were months to think, to analyse, to prepare. You never lose your DNA, you never lose your identity, but I have time to think about many things. During my career I have made mistakes.
“I am stronger, I am relaxed, I am motivated, I am ready and I think the players felt that in two days. I am ready to support them, this is not about me. It is about the club. I am here to try and help everyone.”
Mourinho is known to be enthused by the quality of the players at his new club, and was even linked with several of them while in charge at Old Trafford. Yet he would not have been handed this opportunity had Spurs’ form not been in a slump, a fact he acknowledged. “In relation to the difficulty of the job, every time a club changes in mid-season it is because the situation is not good, that is obvious, unless something strange happened that we don’t know outside.
“Results make these decisions. I don’t have great experience of getting teams in mid-season, it is only the second time I have done it. I did it in Porto in 2001, but I thought about it for the last few months because I thought I was going to get a team in mid-season.”
Being based in London once again was understood to have been a great draw for Mourinho and his family, but it does place him in close quarters with Chelsea. He has arguably never been more beloved than during his early days at Stamford Bridge and it was a second spell in charge of the club that drew him back to English football in 2013.
Responding to the notion he was seen as “Mr Chelsea”, he said: “I think they have to see me as Mr Inter, Mr Real Madrid, Mr Porto. I gave everything to all of them and that is what I am going to give here.”