News Live Scores
Premier League

Mourinho: I almost felt caged in England

08:52 BST 01/06/2019
Jose Mourinho Manchester United
The former Manchester United boss has admitted to feeling trapped for not being able to speak his mind about match officials in the Premier League

Jose Mourinho has claimed he felt "almost caged" in England as he expressed his frustration at not being able to talk freely about match officials during his spells managing Chelsea and Manchester United.

The Portuguese, who was sacked by United in December 2018, was sanctioned on more than one occasion during his time in the Premier League for criticising officials in interviews with the media.

And Mourinho has suggested he was unfairly punished, insisting he was given "ridiculous small fines" and that the English Football Association would sanction him even if he praised a match official.

"I lived in England most of those years [the 15 years since he left Portugal],” Mourinho told Eleven Sports.

"I also spent some years in Spain where we walked there in the same habitat. Italy not so much. Italy really likes the game, the tactics. I usually have people talking about it, more polemic, less polemic, more aggressiveness, less aggressiveness, but they are people of great credibility and you have great names in football to discuss about football.

"But in England it's day and night. For example, I've sometimes felt almost caged because you can't even comment on the referee before the game. I was punished and well punished for pre-match statements and statements such as 'I hope the referee is very well, that he resists pressure from Anfield Road, that he has an excellent performance'. This is forbidden. This is considered to somehow induce the referee, put some kind of pressure on him.

"Even speaking well of the referee, as I did, I was punished. In Portugal, you tell referees what you want, before the game, during and after the game, you're punished with ridiculous small fines. There's total impunity. And we're talking only at this level. And then obviously we're a country that should like this.

"The kind of TV shows that exist in Portugal and that exist simultaneously in three, four, five different channels and that are repeated from Monday to Sunday and that survive, is because Portuguese people like this. So maybe we have the football we want to have."

Mourinho also heaped praise on Portuguese wonderkid Joao Felix, who is on Manchester City's radar for the summer, while making sure to credit the role his club, Benfica, have had in his development.

"To start with, I think it's more important to describe even superficially Benfica's team, which was the habitat where he developed, and which allowed him to have conditions for it. I think things start there a little bit. The Portuguese championship is a championship that obviously has a big gap between the top teams and the others that allows a team to develop a dominant game, which is what Benfica is developing at the moment.

"It's a dominating team, that enters the field and wants to win, wants to score, that doesn't have fears, that is winning by 1-0, 2-0 and that wants to win by three or four and that doesn't fear the power - that also isn’t much - of the opponents. Joao is developing in a habitat created by Bruno Lage [the coach] and he develops his qualities.

"He said the other day that his position was that of a free role. A free role in high level football may not exist. A free role but subject to certain principles of play that he must know and surely knows. I think he's a player who has a fantastic ability. From the point of view of defensive organisation, it's better than what you might think. Usually when you say you have a free role, you think you're not defending. He defends and I think he defends well.

"And I think that Bruno has defined from game to game the moments of pressure, the positions of pressure, and Joao Felix presses, recovers, closes spaces, has a very good understanding of the game. I think he's on the right track to be a great player. This issue of selling, not selling, should sell, should not sell, should leave, should not leave, Benfica is the one who knows, Joao Felix knows, his family knows. It is very difficult to say what can be better for each one."