Jose Mourinho: Tottenham boss talks Sir Bobby Robson ahead of Newcastle visit

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Jose Mourinho opens up to Sky Sports News' Gary Cotterill on the influence of Sir Bobby Robson ahead of Newcastle's visit to Tottenham on Super Sunday.

These days, of course, Jose Mourinho is very much a Cockerel - as he put it on his first day in the job, he "wears Spurs pyjamas". But he admits there will always be a place in his heart for another club with a feathered mascot.

"I am a little Magpie," he says on the day Newcastle come to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, live on Sky Sports.

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Jose's soft spot for Newcastle is because of Sir Bobby Robson, his close friend and mentor. A man he still refers to, out of deference, as simply "Mr Robson".

"It's a club I feel connection with because of Mr Robson, it's a simple as that," Mourinho told Sky Sports News. "He had a huge passion for Newcastle and his area, Durham. He had it in his heart.

"So, through him I have become a little magpie!"

Wednesday this week marked the exact day, 20 years ago, that Mourinho first sat in a dugout as a manager. He took over at Benfica from Jupp Heynckes on September 23, 2000.

Sir Bobby Robson and Jose Mourinho at Barcelona
Image: Sir Bobby Robson and Jose Mourinho worked together at Barcelona in the 1996/97 season

While Jose's team were getting beaten 1-0 at Boavista, 800 miles away, Sir Bobby's team where suffering the same fate at home to Charlton. Jose admits, if things had been just a bit different, he would have been at Robson's side that day. He was offered the chance to become Sir Bobby's assistant at St James' Park.

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When asked if he almost joined his old boss at Newcastle, Mourinho smiles.

"More or less, yes," he said. "But at the time I was already eyeing a different direction.

"Mr Robson always knew that I wanted to give everything that I could to him, but at the same time he also knew I had my eyes in a different direction. But yes, there was a chance."

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Ironic then, that St James' Park has been an unhappy hunting ground for Mourinho. Until Tottenham's victory there at the end of last season, he had never won a Premier League game at Newcastle.

"In spite of never winning there, I love to go there and play in front of those incredible fans," he said. Of course, there will be no fans on Sunday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs may be at home, and they may have won three out of three in all competitions since that opening day defeat to Everton. But Mourinho knows it'll be tough this afternoon.

"A difficult match," he said. "Good work by Steve [Bruce] in the transfer window. They have a certain style of play that they feel very comfortable with. At this moment it's three points for them and three for us, so it's a big game."

Mourinho as manager at Benfica in 2000
Image: Mourinho as manager at Benfica in 2000

Mourinho doesn't believe all the uncertainty over Newcastle's ownership has affected the team on the pitch. And certainly not their transfer business. Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, Jamal Lewis, Jeff Hendrick and Mark Gillespie have joined so far this summer, with more spending expected.

"They managed to get some important players, that's for sure," Jose said. "I could even feel Steve's happiness when he was speaking about the new players. It's been a really good transfer window for them so I don't believe there has been a negative impact."

Mourinho could feel Bruce's happiness, and I could feel his. It's clear to see, after that goal spree at Southampton last Sunday. I asked if such performances still give him a thrill.

"Of course. That's why we work so hard every day. That's why when things don't click we are disappointed and frustrated. So yes, I am happy."

The statue of Bobby Robson is seen outside St James' Park
Image: The statue of Sir Bobby Robson outside St James' Park

He may be happy with his team's performance, but not with his schedule. It's almost unprecedented in modern football.

Newcastle on Sunday, Chelsea in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, Maccabi Haifa in the Europa League on Thursday and then Manchester United on Sunday. It's a schedule that's a new experience for Mourinho, despite two decades at the top.

"After 20 years I'm going to experience something new, which is to play Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday," he said. "It's something unique. Very difficult to manage because we don't want to throw away a competition."

He's particularly frustrated that the English Football League isn't making any allowance for Spurs' Europa League commitments.

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"At first I thought, if the Carabao Cup isn't interested in us, why should we be interested in them?" he said. "I thought of throwing away the competition.

"But no. We want to be respectful to the competition and to the history of Tottenham - it was Tottenham's last cup. So we are going to try and win every match, and that puts us in a situation where we have to take some risks."

Watch Tottenham host Newcastle on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League. Coverage starts at 1pm, with kick-off at 2pm.

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