The Tottenham Hotspur manager was speaking to L’Equipe ahead of the derby against the Blues this Saturday. The 35-year-old worked with Mourinho at FC Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, before he went left to begin his managerial career with Academica Coimbra, but says he was never the Special One’s assistant.
“I was never his number two,” he said. “I was part of his staff, but I was never his assistant. That’s one of the reasons we went our separate ways. I thought I could give him a lot more, but he didn’t feel the need to have someone next to him. So I decided to give myself freedom and think about my career, which wasn’t difficult. Yes, there are similarities: Porto, Chelsea. But he has had a lot of success at Chelsea and I didn’t have a good experience there.”
Given their similiar managerial routes, AVB and his compatriot have drawn comparisons, but the Spurs boss does not agree with them.
“The comparisons are difficult to accept for different reasons. When you start your coaching career, everyone looks at where you come from. I learned with Jose Mourinho, but I’m completely different to him in terms of personality, way of working and communication. We have different philosophies. Of course, Jose has been very important in my career, he’s enabled me to step back and look at things, and given me experience that I would not have been able to have with anyone else. We had a super working relationship, we won, but as soon as we parted ways, I started doing things my way. The comparisons come from the media. And the first difference is our personalities.”
On his nine-month tenure as Chelsea boss, he said: “Chelsea was an experience for me because it allowed me to understand that there are certain things I cannot do. There, I was the same coach as I was at Porto. I had a direction I wanted to go in and I wanted the team to follow. But I didn’t get enough support to be able to follow that direction. Finally, it turned out to be a good thing, because that experience taught me a lot, and today at Tottenham, I do things differently,” he explained.
“My past at Porto gave me advantages and disadvantages. I had principles, values, and I’m very stubborn, I don’t change them. I learned at school that the team is more important than any player. So I try to defend the team over any individual. But today I’m more flexible, I perhaps handle things better with key players. I treated everyone the same way at Chelsea. Only, to be able to stick to that line, you need the support of the club, and you don’t find that everywhere. At Porto, yes.”