© foto di Hernandez/Alterphotos/Image Sp
José Mourinho faces his third season leading Real Madrid. He does it "excited after two years in which this team has gone from strength to strength and has always won a title". One day shy of concluding the American tour, the White's coach reflected on the pre-season and analysed the campaign about to commence with the first fixture of la Liga against Valencia August 19 in the Santiago Bernabéu. "We're going to fight for each match and each title with all our might. You can't promise more because there are factors that you can't control. This sport is and always will be a game and games are unpredictable. I like reducing this uncertainty to an absolute minimum and having Real Madrid win many more times than not. We want to want to win titles again and return to Cibeles, which is the best end to a season you can have".
What's your assessment of Real Madrid's tour in the United States?
It hasn't finished yet, but it's going well. We worked hard and well in the first period and later the games have turned out how we wanted them to. The first fixture was against an American team that was more worried about playing well and allowing good play. The next match was more complicated, more competitive and intense, against a Mexican team. Later, we played a top level European team in a stadium that we new would bring motivation on the one hand and responsibility on the other. It was good for us and now we're going to finish by playing a team with a completely different profile that plays a British style of football. We're playing well, once again putting together the pieces of a machine that was already working well and trying to step up our intensity and confidence. We're preparing ourselves as best as possible to start well.
Many players have pointed out that this team is well established and that two years of work are paying off. Is this team really so united?
It helps when people know each other and get on well together. The players might have been together for a long time but if there's no empathy and pleasure in working together you have a bigger problem than when you're putting together a group. We all get along well, we know each other well both on a personal level and in terms of football. They know the way I work and my ideas and I know them, their great qualities and the small problems that always exist. We're excited about our third year after two in which we've gone from strength to strength and have always won a title. Last year's was more important than the one the year before. That's where we are and it's a shame that the national teams are leaving us in a complicated situation next week before the championship begins. That's the calendar. We knew about it months ago and we've tried to organise the pre-season in a balanced way so that the players can start, perhaps not all-out, but well.
Much has been said about the goal-fest against Milan and the play deployed by your team. Did José Mourinho expect Real Madrid to respond in this way at this stage in the preparation?
We played well. We won the match and I think that for the players the stadium was an additional motivating factor. The stadium was packed with fans and people that feel a special connection to the team because they don't live in Spain. Another motivating factor was the reputation of our rivals and we played all-out and prepared really well. The result is rewarding but not essential. What's essential is that we play well and we did it at a level at which we played many times last season. They are small factors that add to the confidence this team already has.
In the game against Milan, were we seeing the Real Madrid of Mourinho's third year?
I don't know. We played the first half well against a very closed team that came on with very defensive play and many players at the back. It made us think about our play. That's going to happen to us a lot with teams that are going to lock down against us. When we scored the second goal in the second half and they wanted to attack, the game profile changed. They played more offensively, leaving a lot of space for our transitions. It was a rich game in a tactical sense to train us.
There are many people that wonder why you enjoy coming to the United States so much for the pre-season. In New York, in the Yankee Stadium, we saw many reasons to do it...
The people that ask me that only do so once. The president asked me and after coming he's never asked me again. This time he came with us and we've loved having him. He's not going to ask me again why I want to come because he's going to enjoy coming back himself. With the exception of Philadelphia, where we knew what the temperature would be like, the climate is perfect for working. The organisation is perfect, the matches are good, the stadiums and the fans motivational. We promote Real Madrid in an important market, we promote football in a country where it isn't the top sport. I also think it's good for the club economically... It's also perfect for the players on the Spanish national team because they're going to stay and head from here to Costa Rica, which is much closer than if they had to return to Europe and it saves them some hours of travel. It's perfect for everyone and it's a great experience. I've been doing it for seven years and I want to continue because I like it a lot. Whoever comes never asks again.