Mourinho doesn’t need to change his tactics because he’s won trophies in his time at Man United. We tend to overlook that sometimes.
People get blown away by teams like Tottenham, Arsenal, who arguably play better football but then don’t win anything.
And then you’ve got Mourinho, who gets the job done – United won the Europa League, that’s not a trophy to underestimate and the League Cup. He got them into the Champions League.
I don’t think the game’s gone by him, he just needs a break. It’s like with anything, once you fall out of love with it you tend to not be as good.
Solskjaer’s probably the complete opposite to that because he’s still the enthusiasm of being a new manager, he’s not got the ten years of travelling every week for games, it takes a toll. He’s still at the start of his managerial life, so he’s still in love with it all. Every day is great for him, and you can see the effect on the players.
That’s what Mourinho was like 15 years ago, loving every day, stepping into the office and out for the training run and treating lit like the best day ever. There comes a point where you lose that.
Mourinho changed the game in England
Jose Mourinho upped the game preparation when he came to Chelsea first. Training got more intense, more structured, things were planned to the second. It was really detailed, as was injury recovery. The material you got before the games on opponents, your position, our tactics, that’s all standard now, but if you look back to then, that was game-changing.
He was the first one to check the stats and analyse teams really well, and not on a Friday afternoon, but on a Tuesday for Saturday’s game. That wasn’t done before.
And the players loved it!
The more you get demanded from you, the more you tend to stand up and do. We loved the detail. There were no excuses then. Bad performances, you couldn’t blame it on anyone else because we’d been prepared properly for everything. You were responsible for your performance, which is what you need.
Now, he’s been working nearly non-stop in football for the past 20 years, so maybe he got a bit tired at United. There’s no harder working manager than him when involved at a club. He puts his all in. Maybe he needed a break – it looks like that now, he looks healthy again, and I’m sure he’ll be back in football soon.
Chelsea were broke – Ranieri had to play me
I was scouted playing for Germany at schoolboy level. There were a few possibilities with German clubs at the time, but once I knew Chelsea were interested I lost interest in playing in Germany. I just really liked the idea of moving to England and doing something new. There wasn’t a masterplan.
But Chelsea didn’t have money back then. Ken Bates was in the middle of selling the club and they needed to get to the Champions League to interest a buyer. It was fortunate for me because they couldn’t buy any players, so I was involved in the first team from very early on. I made my debut at 17.
Ultimately that boardroom stuff doesn’t have an effect on you in terms of performance, you’ve just got to do your job. And for me, being as young as I was, I was just happy to be there. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, loving every minute of it. I never felt there was pressure on players because of the state of the club.
Claudio had to give me a chance and I took it.
He’d finished second and fourth in his last two seasons before Roman Abramovich came in. He did a good job with what was at hand. I remember playing European games with six or seven youth and reserve team players in the squad because we didn’t have enough players. He got us into the Champions League and once Abramovich took over it was different ball game.