Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho responded tetchily to a series of awkward questions on the eve of tonight’s Uefa Super Cup clash with European champions Bayern Munich in Prague.
The outspoken Portuguese was unhappy about comparisons with his old rival, Bayern counterpart Pep Guardiola, at yesterday’s news conference and with yet more questions about the future of Spain playmaker Juan Mata.
Mourinho bolstered his strikeforce yesterday when it was confirmed Samuel Eto’o had signed from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala on a one-year deal.
However, his irritation was apparent when one reporter suggested he had only beaten former Barcelona manager Guardiola three times in 15 meetings, with the Chelsea boss responding by recalling a string of victories he had enjoyed with Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
“Your statistics are very wrong,” he said. “Go and see what happened when I was with Inter in the Champions League semi-final, the King’s Cup final with Real in Spain, the Super Cup in Spain. Maybe you are right and I am wrong but I don’t care. This is not about us, it’s about Chelsea and Bayern.”
Another reporter said that, while Barcelona under Guardiola were portrayed as beautiful, Mourinho’s former Real team were generally viewed in less flattering terms.
“If you want to ask questions about Chelsea I am here until four o’clock,” said Mourinho as he tapped the club crest of the Europa League winners on his white training top. “If you want to ask questions about Real or Barcelona then I’m not here.”
Mata has been voted Chelsea’s player of the year for the last two seasons but his omission from the team for Monday’s 0-0 draw at Premier League title rivals Manchester United prompted renewed claims the Spaniard was out of favour.
Asked if Mata was available for a transfer, the manager replied: “I was surprised when the Brazilian lady asked me about Oscar earlier because there is a new tendency to ask about the players who don’t play.
“They don’t ask about the players that play. He [Mata] didn’t play against United, it was my option.
“I think it is my duty to explain to the players and I do. I don’t think it is my duty to explain to the media,” added Mourinho. “Everything is clear between us. We want him to stay and he is a very important player. There is no story.”
Mata could return to the Chelsea team tonight and Brazil defender David Luiz is also fit after recovering from a hamstring problem. Playmaker Willian, Chelsea’s other new signing from Anzhi, is not in the 26-man squad but can be expected to provide the ammunition for prolific striker Eto’o when they team up again on the pitch.
With the arrival of Eto’o, it now seems likely that Chelsea will end their pursuit of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney after two rejected bids.
Speaking prior to confirmation of Eto’o’s arrival, Mourinho appeared to have conceded defeat in the bid to capture the England forward, who played for United against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday, after hinting a third bid had not been lodged.
Mourinho said: “I told you what I have to say. I think I [made it] very, very clear that we didn’t start the process [a third bid]. We have nothing more to say. He’s a Man United player and no more than that.”
Mourinho’s capture of Eto’o will see the Cameroon striker reunited with the manager after working together at Inter, where they lifted the 2010 Champions League title in a treble-winning campaign.
Eto’o said on chelseafc.com: “I am very happy to be here but also anxious because I want to get playing as soon as possible. It wasn’t a hard decision. I saw the qualities Chelsea have, and I was very happy with Jose Mourinho before, so when the opportunity came, I was very happy to take it.”
The signing of 32-year-old Eto’o, who commanded wages reported to be in the region of £300,000 a week in Russia, is at odds with Chelsea’s recent transfer policy of recruiting younger players. It also leaves a question mark over the futures of Demba Ba and Fernando Torres, as Mourinho has made it clear four strikers is too many and that Romelu Lukaku is key for Chelsea’s future.
Ba’s place in the squad seems most at risk, but Torres has still to repay the £50million fee paid to Liverpool, as Mourinho admitted earlier this week.