José Mourinho wants to emulate Roy Hodgson and manage into his 70s. The Tottenham manager faces his 73-year-old Crystal Palace counterpart at Selhurst Park on Sunday and he believe he can be pushing for victories and fighting to steel the mentality of players when he is at a similar age.
“I see it myself, yes, but who knows?” Mourinho said. “A big friend of mine on Thursday got a job in the Portuguese Premier League at the age of 74 [Jesualdo Ferreira at Boavista]. He is a fantastic coach, incredible knowledge, incredible passion. Maybe you are tired of me because I’m here for 20 years, since 2000 when I got my first job [at Benfica], but the reality is that at the age of 57, for the job, for the nature of the job, I am very young.”
It feels as though Mourinho has discovered a new lease of life at Spurs. When he was dismissed by Manchester United in December 2018, it was difficult to see him managing again in the Premier League, such was the acrimony of his closing months at Old Trafford. But, having joined Spurs in November last year, he is now flying in his first full season.
His team have lost two of 21 games in all competitions, progressing to the Europa League last 32 and the Carabao Cup quarter-finals. Mourinho made it clear last season that the players needed to be harder and nastier. He believes they are getting there.
“We are improving as a team, that is not in doubt,” Mourinho said. “The concept of what the team needs and the type of mentality we need in the team, which is something I have been very, very clear about, we are improving step by step.”
Mourinho refused to be drawn on the criticism from Sky Sports pundits over his team’s counterattacking style in last Sunday’s 2-0 home win over Arsenal. “I’m not going to be the pundit of the pundit,” he said. “They are professional. I was a pundit [for Sky] but not professional. I was a pundit in my free time as a manager when I didn’t have a job. It was something I enjoyed and something that helped me to respect people’s opinions.”