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Mourinho won't say why but he says Real Madrid is the most difficult club in the world. Dominique Faget / AFP
Mourinho won't say why but he says Real Madrid is the most difficult club in the world. Dominique Faget / AFP

Jose Mourinho is all smiles about his future

The Real Madrid manager talks about life at "the most difficult club in the world", a possible return to the Premier League and life off the pitch.

An amused grin spread across Jose Mourinho's face as he describes Real Madrid as "the most difficult club in the world". It is not, though, a club he plans to leave any time soon.

Back in London on Tuesday night to support music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, one of football's most successful and colourful managers explained why he is not planning on being back in the Premier League next season, why the division is weaker than the one he twice won with Chelsea, and why his radically restructured Real side will be at their best in a year's time.

Professionally, things seem good for Real Madrid. You've closed in on Barcelona and are in the Champions League quarter-final for the first time in seven years ...

I keep thinking and keep saying that it is a very, very young team so I think the second season will be the great season of this Real Madrid team. But when you arrive in April and you are in the second position and everything is open you cannot say, 'I am not ready for it. I don't try it. I don't fight for it.' You will do it. And the team is coming up, boys are adapting.

People like [Mesut] Ozil, [Angel] Di Maria arriving for the first time in Spain at this level of football, they are much more comfortable in this moment. [Gonzalo] Higuain, who was a six months [injury] blow for us is coming out and is ready to play football so it looks like we are arriving strong in the last moment of the season. Every match is a final, and every defeat kills your chances, and every victory feeds your ambition.

Would you have preferred not to have drawn Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League quarter-finals?

I didn't want Chelsea or Inter [Milan, Mourinho's former clubs] because last season was difficult for me to play against Chelsea. I did it and I gave everything I could to help my team, but it was not comfortable. I don't like to play against my friend so I don't want Inter and Chelsea. After that any team is difficult and any team is a motivation for us. Tottenham beat Inter, they beat AC Milan, they have ambitions. They have a very good team, very good players with a good manager like Harry [Redknapp]. You can feel it is a happy team, and happy teams are dangerous.

Will Cristiano Ronaldo have recovered from his hamstring problem to play against Tottenham?

I think he will. I think for the match on the weekend before the first game against Tottenham, he can, maybe he can't play, but I will not risk him. So we hope against Tottenham he is ready. He is very important. A special player as everyone knows and, for me, we need him. Especially on these moments he is the kind of player that loves a challenge, loves to be their for the big moments. He will give everything.

How do you see the Premier League title race this season?

It's open. I think Arsenal, they have an advantage as they are not involved in the Champions League anymore. Chelsea is, Manchester United is. They have to play among themselves, these two matches are difficult, they demand a lot from the clubs, from the players; Arsenal is just playing Premier League matches.

I think this could be their season, but, at the same time, sometimes they lose points in an unexpected way. Nobody is waiting for them to lose points and they do it. So I think it will be again between Man United and Chelsea and I think the match at Old Trafford [the league game between the two on May 7] will decide everything because Chelsea needs to win. If they do it they can win the league. If they don't I think Man United will win the league.

Some say this is a poor Premier League season, others say it is fantastic. What do you think?

I have an opinion but I'm not here so I think the opinion of the people who are in the English game is more important than mine. But I think that if one team was really, really strong it would be champion at this moment. I think they [the top teams] lost too many points, but because everybody did, everybody is still in the race for the title. If you look for example to Spain we have 70 points and 70 points is not enough to be first. Here people are losing points and are still in the title race. And I don't see these things because the other teams are strong, I don't see that.

You are very vocal about your love of English football. Are you sure your next destination is going to be England or are you just flirting with English football?

No, no, no, it is going to be my next destination. There is only one other thing I want to do which is to be the Portugal national team manager but I want to do it just to finish my career, so they have to wait 20 more years. The next step after Real will be English football if there is a club that I fancy that wants me at that moment. But at this moment it's Real, for sure the biggest club in the world. Also the most difficult one, but I'm enjoying.

We seem to be reading in the British press on almost a weekly basis that you're coming back next season ...

No, next season is very difficult. I said a few months ago and I have to say always the same, which is every season if the club is happy, if the manager is happy, if the players are happy, and if the bosses are happy, there is no reason to change club. So at the end of the season I will sit with my people in Real Madrid and we will analyse the situation and if everybody is happy I have three more years of contract and I will stay in Real Madrid.

And in terms of coming back to the Premier League, do you have your eye on somewhere?

The only idea that I have is that I want to be happy and England was the country where I was the happiest manager and then I want to be back. So after Real Madrid if that door is open for me that's my choice, no doubt. But at the same time I am in Real, biggest club in the world, incredible challenge, the most difficult club in the world, too. For sure.


I would need a few hours to explain it, but for sure the most difficult club in the world. And I'm enjoying it.

Nordoff Robbins is a charity that helps children but also involves music. Two important things in your life ...

Children are more important. I like music, but I think children are the most important thing in the world. And especially children with needs. I think sometimes we have to stop and look and try to do something to make their lives a little bit better.

People see Mourinho the football manager, they don't see Mourinho the father ...

Sometimes they try, but I block. My wife is a very strong personality on that. We want to live a normal life, we want our kids to be normal kids, we want our kids to know they are privileged kids but at the same time to be in the real world. To understand their world, to have friends from many different social or economical levels, to have a big heart. And I'm a proud father because of my kids.

Do you try to separate your professional life and your personal life?

I don't try, I do it. Of course there are moments you go home and you bring a little bit of football. Of course we bring home the happiness of a big result, we bring home difficult feelings in difficult moments in your job, but I separate things. I stay more time in the football club than managers normally do because when I go home I want to go home for them. Don't bring a video to watch, don't bring a document to read, nothing. I try to live my family life the best I can.

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