Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Finishing Top Isn't That Special When You're Jose

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Finishing Top Isn't That Special When You're Jose

Article excerpt

Byline: Barclay's account Patrick Barclay

SECOND is the new first. We know because Jose Mourinho says so.

After Real Madrid had made sure of finishing runners-up in their Champions League group by drawing at Manchester City, he declared that it was better than being top. Why? Because, he replied with a straight face and a matter-of-fact air, the teams that finished top might have to face Real Madrid.

No wonder we miss Mourinho. It was funny because of the element of truth -- while most opponents would fret about facing Borussia Dortmund in the knockout stages, they'd fancy Real even less, partly because of Mourinho's habit of collecting European titles -- but he wasn't intending to entertain us as much as prepare his own players.

After his first encounter with Sir Alex Ferguson in 2004, he heard the Manchester United manager had made disparaging post-match remarks about Porto but only feigned offence. Ferguson, he explained, had been merely "playing the next game [second leg] with his head". …

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