Mourinho previews Conference League clash vs CSKA Sofia


Jose Mourinho took the floor at Trigoria to address the media ahead of Thursday’s Conference League match against CSKA Sofia.

When asked about opening the season with five straight wins, the Portuguese technician said:

“5 wins are not 50. There is no reason to be ultra optimistic or positive, out of question.”

“Positive results are important because they help the team’s process. The fans also need to be balanced in understanding that it is a process and that we have only been working for two months.”

“We feel the revolution and yes, at all levels. But let’s stay calm. The fact that the stadium is always at its best for the fans is nice and maybe it can help to understand that there is a great desire for all the fans waiting for normality.”

“Maintaining ambition is a feature that we want to continue to have. We must always have these characteristics. Against Sassuolo it could have been 2-1 for them, but even if it had been our desire, empathy with the fans is not negotiable. I’ll make some changes. Step by step we must finish the group and qualify.”

On managing Zaniolo following his comeback after two serious injuries and whether Carles Perez will start over him:

“The players do not yet know who is playing and therefore I do not say it. A quiet balance must be found. Not a balance of feeling pressure.”

“Nico is fine, the injury is over, the negative feelings too. The other day he was tired. I understand that when the players who go to the national team and don’t train as much, there aren’t many conditions to work properly.”

On using only 13 players so far into the season and still being able to maintain unity in the group:

“Players are smart, they understand things. They know that even if they don’t always play as a starter, they’re part of the team. They look at us how we look at them, how we talk to each other, how we make comments in training. They understand everything even without many words.”

“Stephan El Shaarawy is a very important player for me, he is a starter. There aren’t only 11 players. Situations change and I’ve never had a team that those who started the season on the pitch finished the same way at the end of the season. The season is not a highway. There is also a winding road.”

“Stephan is now growing. He has a lot of experience. Before the match against Sassuolo, I talked to him a bit and told him that he would play as the starter against CSKA. For me he is a starter even if he started on the bench. They are more responsible than me for the unity of the locker room, they know the different roles. In this sense the group works very well.”

About thinking of winning the Conference League:

“I feel my mission as a leader is very easy. As an assistant I also won a Cup that no longer exists: the Cup Winners’ Cup. I won it with Barcelona in 1997 I think. Even though I haven’t thought about this too much, I think I would like to win it. I don’t think I’ll be the only one in history to do it. We are still a long way from winning this competition, but we will try to do it. Now it is only the first match of the group.”

On 200 fans waiting outside of the restaurant where the team celebrated Mourinho’s 1000th game as a manager:

“That is beautiful and important to us. Also important for those arriving in Italy for the first time like Vina and Abraham.”

“I thank the fans. I keep saying that this empathy with the fans is very important. We must have peace of mind. Understand that we need to improve a lot. Today we had the meeting to analyze the match against Sassuolo and we found some mistakes. Game principles that we have improved or worsened.”

On not having started Kumbulla yet and whether he is satisfied with the center-backs at his disposal:

“If Kumbulla plays and Mancini doesn’t, you ask me what problems are there and so on. There’s 4 of them and it is a fair number. 5 is too much. To play with the fifth center-back you need a good excuse. If I always change, maybe you or someone who thinks differently will tell me that the same two always play. I can say that I am happy with this group of central defenders. If you ask me if I change both of you I tell you no.”

On what still needs to be improved:

“We are not perfect. There is still a lot to do. We won 5 games so far but we always made some mistakes. We are a humble team and we must continue to be so. Tomorrow is not a race with the same pressures as Trabzonspor. There are 6 matches in the group and we want to qualify quickly.”