West Brom manager Steve Clarke returns to Chelsea tomorrow, coming up against his mentor Jose Mourinho for the first time. Clarke enjoyed a fruitful four year spell as Mourinho’s assistant during the Special One’s first period in charge at Stamford Bridge, and told The Sun of the effect that Mourinho had on him.
Clarke was youth team boss at the club at the time of Mourinho’s arrival, and admitted that he had doubts over his future at the club:
“I didn’t know what to expect when I got a call to meet him. I had great doubts about my future.
“When you’ve got a meeting with a new manager, there are two possibilities – you come out keeping your job, or you are unemployed.
“I really didn’t know if he wanted to keep me or get rid of me. Fortunately, I stayed and it’s just as well. They were memorable years for me.”
“I Changed Completely.”
Clarke continued on the subject of Mourinho’s management style and training sessions, showering his former boss with praise.
“The greatest compliment I can give Jose is to say in the time we worked together I changed completely
“I learned more with him than with all the other coaches put together who I’d worked with,”
“There were a lot of differences between Jose Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri, the previous manager, who had more ‘Italian’ methods – that is, the tactical part of training was separate from the physical part.
“When Jose arrived, the two elements were combined and the players responded well. Mourinho put the ball into all the exercises and the players adored that.
“‘Intensity’ was the key word for work. He made them understand that all the sessions were important, that each and every exercise was important.
“He brought intensity to the activity of training and even to the club itself. For him, training is serious and totally professional. He’s extremely demanding but he’s there to help you if you have a problem. You know he’ll be on your side.”
Left Too Soon
Mourinho left the Blues in 2007 amidst disagreement with club owner Roman Abramovic. Clarke stayed at the club for a further year before moving to West Ham, and admitted his disappointment at the way things ended for Mourinho.
“The day I took leave of him was hard. What is most certain when you start a job as coach or manager is that one day the mission will come to an end.
“But, in the case of Jose, it seems to me his departure from Chelsea happened too soon. Everyone felt that.
“Fortunately, I developed a good relationship with him. We still talk, not every day, but regularly, be it about certain games, certain players or our families.
“That’s why I say to Jose that he should continue his good work and I thank him for the help he’s given me.”