‘It’s a state of mind’: Mourinho reveals secrets to preparing for Champions League final (VIDEO)
Mourinho has an unblemished record in two Champions League finals and one showpiece each in the UEFA Cup and Europa League.
The Portuguese first tasted managerial success in Europe with Porto in the UEFA Cup in 2003, before sensationally guiding the Portuguese team to the Champions League title one season later.
He then led Inter Milan to the Champions League in 2010, adding the Europa League title to his packed trophy cabinet with Manchester United in 2017.
This weekend in Madrid, it will be Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham Hotspur counterpart Mauricio Pochettino bidding to lay their hands on club football’s biggest prize when they meet in the Champions League final.
After the sides booked their places in the Madrid showpiece earlier in May, Mourinho told RT on his show ‘On the Touchline with Jose Mourinho’ just what it takes to set a team up for victory in a major European final.
“First of all you have to be ready yourself. The players must know, must feel, must smell that you are ready. That’s, I think, the most important thing,” said the 56-year-old Portuguese managerial great.
“The final is a state of mind. They’re not my words, I don’t know which manager said that many years ago, but some big manager said that ‘finals are not to play, finals are to win.’
“You have to play a final feeling that you are going to win, you are going to be prepared for everything, nothing can surprise you,” Mourinho added.
The former Real Madrid and Manchester United boss is known for his relentless attention to detail – and says Liverpool manager Klopp and Spurs rival Pochettino will need to plan for all eventualities come Saturday night’s big game at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.
“The right back needs to know about everything about the player who can play left winger. [If you are Liverpool] you have to know about Lucas [Moura], about [Erik] Lamela, about Son [Heung-min], about [Dele] Alli because sometimes he can play there. You have time to go for every detail."
“That’s my experience of European finals, four, and for all four, I used every minute of that week to prepare the team and to reduce the unpredictability.
“Because the players are going to have enough tension with them, it doesn’t matter the experience, they are going to feel it, it’s not a normal game, they are going to feel it.
“And if you can give them confidence with your state of mind, but also this tactical base, then reduce the levels of pressure, increase the levels of confidence, and you are closer to win than to lose,” he added.
Liverpool’s preparations for Saturday’s game have seen them soak up the sun with a training camp in southern Spain, while Spurs have preferred the home comforts of their Enfield training base outside London.
Mourinho said he planned ahead early to ensure smooth preparations for his big finals, in particular removing any issues that could potentially distract players from the task at hand.
“I always care in the finals with the details, I want the players very focused on it. I used immediately, on the semi-finals, to discuss with the club structure all the details that the players are going to be worried with,” Mourinho said.
“They want to know how many tickets they are going to have, they want to know if there is a plane to take the families or not, they want to know if after the game we stay or if after the game we come back, they want to know all these details.
“They have, each one, 50 friends, but in that week they have 500 friends, everyone wants tickets, everybody thinks that that the manager, that the players [can get tickets], so you need to create something around the players, that you isolate them from this," he added.
“They must be in a group, it’s a week where they finish the game and goodbye, see you in one month’s time. They have to be really focused and you have to take all the problems away from them."
Incredibly, Mourinho also revealed that when he won the Champions League with Inter in 2010, he started thinking ahead to the final even BEFORE his side had dumped out Barcelona in the semi-finals.
“I always remember in the Inter semi-final against Barcelona, that I discussed all these details with the club before the qualification,” the Portuguese said.
“And when we won, the president and the structure of the club, they were saying, ‘how can we find 50 tickets for each player, I’m sorry, I don’t know where we’re going to find. I know that you promised me, and I promised the players…’
“So there are things that you can create a better atmosphere, you need a better atmosphere, to create a situation for the players to breathe, because they are going to have enough pressure.”
Saturday’s kick-off time is 7pm local time in Madrid, and Mourinho said that the long build-up to evening start times was something he was not a fan of.
“I love the 3 o’clock kick-off, exactly because everything happens fast,” he said.
“And we are not speaking about finals, but even in normal matches, wake up, 9.30, 10, breakfast or brunch, one meeting, you must be in the stadium one and a half hours before, so 1 o’clock we are on the move.
“Everything is fast, that’s one of the reasons I don’t like to bring the team to the hotel the day before the night matches, because you stay more than 24 hours in there.
“But of course the Champions League final is the Champions League final, they have to go to Madrid, I don’t know, two days before or the day before, and they are going to feel, it’s something that stays with you’re the rest of your life, these hours before the finals, so hopefully you are going to win and you have something good to remember.”
Mourinho added that he could recall each detail of his biggest games, right down to what he ate beforehand.
“I remember every detail of my finals, I remember my shoes, my watch, I remember what I did, what I ate, I remember the meetings, so, so many things,” he added.
Come Saturday night, we will know which manager has set his team up best to join Mourinho in that pantheon of greats to have triumphed in the biggest game in European club football.
Check out the full episode of 'On the Touchline with Jose Mourinho', filmed after the semifinal second legs, here: