Football

Mourinho hasn’t changed, his players have: Deco

Jose Mourinho hasn't lost his Midas touch, the only thing that has changed is that his current players react to him differently than his previous charges.

That is the verdict of former Barcelona and Portugal midfielder Deco, who came to prominence in the Mourinho-managed Porto team that won the Champions League in 2004.

Ahead of Sunday morning's (Singapore time) FA Cup final between Deco's former team Chelsea and Mourinho's Manchester United, the 40-year-old told Sky Sports: "What happens in the dressing room is that sometimes he wants to push the players.

"It's complicated to manage a big club like Man United.

"In Portugal, there was a lot of pressure because when he arrived (at Porto) we had been two, three years without a title.

"But I think he is the same.

"The players changed, the time has changed.

"Maybe today, the reactions from the players are different.

"If Man United brings him to be a coach, they knew he was like that. He puts pressure on the players, the club.

"He wants to win, that's that."

HISTORY-MAKER

Fellow former Mourinho charge Hernan Crespo, who played for the Portuguese at Chelsea and Inter Milan, was even more effusive, saying Mourinho has changed the history of football management.

The vice-president of Parma told Goal.com: "Jose is different. Jose makes a difference and writes history because the future of his clubs will never be the same after him, because when he comes he brings a warpath as a manager...

"After Mourinho, football managers all changed. They changed what they said in press conferences and the way they behaved. Everything changed.

"In that moment, we understood that managers don't just choose the starting XI.

"They must understand everything all around.

"It is about your relationships with your players, staff, doctors and media.

"He understood all of it and he was very clear with everybody."

N'Golo Kante, meanwhile, is clear that Chelsea have had a disappointing season and winning the FA Cup will go some way in ensuring it ends on a good note.

The Blues' English Premier League title defence did not go to plan as they finished outside the Champions League places in fifth, a whopping 30 points behind champions Manchester City.

Manager Antonio Conte seems set to leave the club after a season highlighted by acrimony with his employers as Chelsea exited the Champions League in the Round of 16 stage and the League Cup in the semi-finals.

Kante told Chelsea's website: "We are all a bit disappointed about our final place in the table, but this is something to win, something to finish the season on a good note."

Chelsea's job will probably be easier if their former player Romelu Lukaku doesn't recover in time to feature at Wembley.

Mourinho said he is unsure if United's top scorer with 27 goals will play due to an ankle injury.

But former United striker Andy Cole has backed the big Belgian to win his fitness battle, telling the club's website: "It may be difficult for him but, hopefully, he'll be passed fit and do the best he can.

"It's not every year you're going to get to the FA Cup final. There are no doubts that, if he's even 90, 80 or 70 per cent fit, he'll give it a go."

Football