Chelsea travelled from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur yesterday with Jose Mourinho declaring “it’s good to be back” after making a bid for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.
Mourinho’s first match of his second spell in charge – a 1-0 defeat of Singha All-Stars in Bangkok – was overshadowed by Chelsea taking the unusual step of confirming that a bid had been made for United striker Rooney. The statement insisted no players had been offered in exchange for the England forward, who is Mourinho’s sole transfer target.
Whatever happens in a saga which is sure to run for some time as Chelsea left Thailand for Malaysia before going on to Indonesia, Mourinho is happy to be back at the Blues helm after a near-six-year absence.
The Portuguese is now looking towards the beginning of the Barclays Premier League season at home to Hull on 18 August.
“It’s just good to be back, but I’m waiting for Hull City, my first match when we play for points,” Mourinho said.
“(It was) not for me a special feeling. I’ve been too many years in football. I’ve always felt connected with Chelsea, even when I was not here.”
Apart from some young talent travelling for experience, Chelsea fielded their entire squad, minus a significant absentee in Frank Lampard.
The midfielder appeared pitch-side with a heavily strapped right ankle and will return to training in today’s first full day in Malaysia ahead of a match against a Malaysia XI on Sunday.
“He was feeling discomfort on his Achilles, so we decided he wouldn’t play,” Mourinho said. “In competition you have to risk sometimes; in pre-season, no. The worst thing that can happen is an injury while taking a risk.”
Mourinho also confirmed that those involved in the Confederations Cup – Cesar Azpilicueta, Juan Mata, Fernando Torres, John Obi Mikel, David Luiz and Oscar – will meet up with the squad for the first time in London on 28 July and will miss the Asia tour.
Mourinho was asked to assess the merits of Chelsea in comparison with other Barclays Premier League clubs.
He insisted it was not possible for him to compare, but that his thoughts were with the Blues in the intervening period between his September 2007 departure and his return last month.
“I left the club in 2007. I went to two fantastic football countries like Italy and Spain, I went to two fantastic football clubs like Inter Milan and Real Madrid and I was always wishing to be back. This club is so special that I’m back and I hope to stay for a long time.”
Mourinho intends to keep his squad together. Spain playmaker Juan Mata and Brazil defender David Luiz have been linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge, a prospect the manager dismissed. He said: “No chance. No chance.” Neither player is on the Asia tour, after Confederations Cup duty.
“The most important thing in football, either for players or for managers is the passion, the happiness and the feelings we have for a club,” the Portuguese said.
“Not many clubs are like that, where people remember you and the fans sing your name, not just at Stamford Bridge but all over the world, you can’t have a better feeling.”