Mourinho takes sideswipe at Blues

LONDON - Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho made a theatrical return to Chelsea on Monday with a masterly performance on the eve of their Champions League showdown.

The Portuguese proclaimed his love for his former club at the same time as having a dig at their fortunes since he left nearly three years ago.

Mourinho, whose team arrive in London with a 2-1 first-leg lead, stepped from behind a screen to a rattle of camera drives and flash bulbs for his much-heralded first return cameo.

After a subdued start, when he countered Italian questions about Inter's recent mediocre performances with steely rebuffs, the showman warmed to his task, speaking of his joy at "coming home" and insisting he would do all he could to lead his side to victory.

He spoke of his regret that unlike Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, Arsenal's Arsene Wenger and Liverpool's Rafa Benitez, he had not been able to stay in England.

"I feel sorry. When I look at the big four they are all there. I did more than enough to be there but the decision was made - they move on, I move on," he said of his departure from the club after falling out with owner Roman Abramovich.

"I keep winning important things. They keep winning something - I think they won the FA Cup," he said.


The trademark swagger, which the British media delighted in but has found little favour in Italy, was in full swing by the end of the 50-minute performance.

"Tomorrow at the end of the game I will be the Special One win or lose," the Portuguese said, adding that he was sure the fans would cheer him when he walked out on the pitch.

Mourinho joined Chelsea in 2004 after winning the Champions League with Porto and described himself as a "Special One" at his first London news conference.

"I feel at home," he said. "I go to the second floor where there are people I know. I go to the third floor where there are people I know. To be back at an old team, to be back at an ex-club and feel how I feel is a beautiful thing.

"If we reach the quarter-finals tomorrow it will be a special moment for Inter," he said. "I have nothing to prove to Chelsea, to Chelsea players, to Chelsea fans, to the Chelsea board...

"Don't confuse the respect and feeling for my ex-players and ex-club with my professionalism nor the desire to win the game with Inter. I will give everything to win," he said.

He ended with a compliment for his successor, former AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti with whom he enjoyed a fierce rivalry, alluding to his last news conference before leaving Chelsea when he likened building a team to making an omelette.

"They have a new chef, a chef with experience, a chef with knowledge of the ingredients that make a football game," Mourinho said.

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