Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is one of Mourinho’s former pupils at Chelsea and the senior man had no doubts his protege would go far in the game as they meet Sunday night on the pitch.
Mourinho on Suarez: ‘I think his answer was magnificent’
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has praised Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan turned from want-away striker into the Premier League’s most lethal predator.
Suarez wanted to leave Anfield in the summer in search of Uefa Champions League football and after being banned for biting Branislav Ivanovic, but Reds manager Brendan Rodgers persuaded the striker to stay to devastating effect on the rest of the top flight.
The striker has netted 19 goals in 13 Premier League appearances and committed his future to the Reds by signing a long-term contract earlier this month.
“Every player is different and every player has his own personality,” said Mourinho, ahead of Sunday’s Stamford Bridge clash between Chelsea and Liverpool. “It happens a lot during the summer, players that want to leave, and after that it depends on them when they are ‘forced’ to stay.
“It depends more on the player’s personality and approach to that situation.
“It depends on them to have revenge in the negative way: by not performing, by not being interested, by not being committed.
“It is up also to them to say: ‘Okay, you kept me, but I am a professional and I want to do my work properly and I want to be an honest guy and so on and so on...’
“It looks like Suarez since the moment he was ‘forced’ to stay, I think his answer was magnificent. You can see his motivation every game.”
Suarez was the subject of a £40million and one pound bid from Arsenal, which was rejected by Liverpool, while other clubs were circling for his signature.
Asked why Chelsea were not in pursuit, Mourinho recalled his own unsuccessful summer bid for Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.
Mourinho added: “Everybody likes him (Suarez). He was not available.
“There is always a club who thinks someone is available. We also thought some players were available and they were not available.”
Suarez’s performances are all the more remarkable given his extended pre-season as a result of his 10-game ban for biting Chelsea defender Ivanovic in the most recent clash between the Reds and the Blues.
Asked if he would have kept faith in Suarez after the incident, Mourinho said: “Everybody makes mistakes.”
However, it came as news to Mourinho that a similar incident had happened in Holland before Suarez’s move to Liverpool.
Mourinho added: “He did it twice? Yes? Well if he does one per country...”
Rodgers is one of Mourinho’s former pupils at Chelsea, having worked under the Portuguese before embarking on his own managerial career and the senior man had no doubts his protege would go far in the game.
Mourinho speaks to Rodgers most weeks, but he was not consulted when the now Liverpool boss had a decision to make when his services were in great demand following a successful spell in charge of Swansea.
The self-proclaimed Special One added: “We speak about basic things, ‘Good luck’, ‘Well done’, ‘How’s family?’, ‘Happy Christmas’.
“He was always a very open guy, open to learn, open to give his opinion, very interested in the game.
“We like him very much, me and my staff, we liked him very much since he started working with us.
“He’s at one of the top clubs in England, one of the top clubs in the world.
“His ambitions now are to win titles at a big club.”
During Mourinho’s first spell, Chelsea and Liverpool were involved in some titanic tussles, particularly in cup and European competitions.
Mourinho and Rafael Benitez, who the Portuguese succeeded at Chelsea this summer, had an intense rivalry which peaked around Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost’ goal, which helped to take Liverpool to the 2005 Champions League final, won by the Reds.
“You only have rivalries with big clubs, you don’t have rivalries with small clubs, and Liverpool is a big club,” Mourinho said.
“They were fighting with us for titles, for Champions League semi-finals, for cup finals, so it’s normal.
“But at the same time I’m full of respect for Liverpool as a club, for Liverpool’s history. I always had that and I haven’t changed that because I am at a rival club.”
Asked if Liverpool are now as good as they were then, Mourinho said: “They were a good team but they are building a good team now, too. I like their team.”
What Mourinho does acknowledge is that Chelsea must improve from recent weeks to beat the Reds and to extend his personal record of never having lost a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge to 70 matches.
“For Chelsea to beat Liverpool, we need to score more goals with less chances,” he said.
“Normally you don’t create against Liverpool five or six or seven big chances. You get two or three and you need to score. We need to score more.”