#4: 'Welcome To Monaco, Mr Mourinho.' | 5th June 2014
This morning I sign a one year contract and officially sit down in my office as the manager of AS Monaco.
I am excited. This club is a serious sleeping giant, and I am happy that I can offer my services to such a historic club. It has been heaped in misery in recent years despite billionaire owners - I am here to change their fortunes. Replace misery with trophies and success. Implement my style onto the club, eventually leaving behind a foundation in place for managers to come and continue success after I am gone.
This is not a long-term project. Winning the league title in France is in my 15 year plan, I must do it, and this is a tremendous opportunity - though with a one year contract, it must be immediate. The transition from Ranieri to Mourinho must be quick, I have my own methods which the players will need to learn.
My main priority is of course Ligue 1. We must fight Lyon, Marseille and PSG in what is a seriously competetive top four. Ranieri was sacked after we finish 13th in the table. The fans want Ligue 1 trophy, I will probably give them Ligue 1 trophy. This is not arrogance, it is a factually based observation.
Before that happens, though, this squad? Tt needs a lot of work. For now, the coaching staff will remain the same until I have had time to evaluate - and the first email I get is from Paolo Bennetti, the assistant manager here. Eventually, I will completely rebuild the club from top to bottom with coaches and players - but right now, I must learn what is already in place. I do not have too much knowledge of the club. I opened the email and it was a report on the squad. Some of it, good, some of it, not so good.
This is how it works with my teams. I try to get smallest squad possible. This way, this way, the team know each other better. The less people there are to talk to the more time you spend with each person. Togetherness is important in any good football team. So is ability. I am here for one season, so potential is not too important for me, especially with the kind of money I expect to be at my disposal.
Any player who is over the age of 21 with an ability rating of less than 3/5, they will go. Sold or released, to me it matters little. I may sound too brutal and heavy handed but it must happen, the weak players must leave to make space for good player to come in. Logic.
For now, every player rated lower than 3/5 in the squad will play and train with the reserves or U19 team depending on how I see fit. This is the hardest part of being a coach. Coming in to a place where you know nobody and then ringing round telling players that they must move on. But I have been doing this for long time now, it is second nature.
After my complete evaluation, I am left with this.
Dimitar Berbatov, I still don't know...I still don't know. If we can do a deal where new striker can come in and do well, maybe Berba will leave. But for now, he stays, and they are the players I will be training in the first-team sessions. Now, we need massive recruitment and I will begin work on that with immediate effect.
The phone on my office desk starts to ring.
"Jose Mourinho speaking." I said still scrolling through the squad report.
"Mr Mourinho, the stadium is full with fans who have come to welcome you. Dmitry says that this is a surprise present from him to you for taking the job." said a soft female vocal. That French accent, almost sexy.
I was totally surprised by this, but it will be a fantastic opportunity to see the fans.
"That's wonderful, thank you. I will come down into the tunnel area now."
My main office, unlike any job I've worked in before, is at the stadium (St Louis II). Which on this occasion has come in handy. I picked up the club gilet off the back of my chair and began the walk from office to tunnel. Perhaps a four to five minute walk. I spent two of the four waiting for a lift before deciding the steps were the best option.
As I walked through the double doors from reception to the dressing room area, there was a mass of club staff crowded round applauding me as I walked in. I nodded, embarrassed by this reception.
"Jose! There are 18,000 Monaco fans out there chanting your name," said Dmitry.
He wasn't kidding, I could hear them.
"Walk into the center circle and wave to each of the four stands. Then, if you will, please say a few words. Vasilyev will hand you a microphone."
Hand me a microphone he did, and without further a do, I walked down the tunnel. The noise growing louder for every step I took. Just as I approached the end, a voice came over the PA system.
"Mesdames et messieurs, garçons et filles, s'il vous plaît accueillent votre nouvel entraîneur-chef à Monaco! José Mourinho!"
I didn't understand this, other than my name at the end. He repeated it in English presumably for my benefit.
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, please welcome your new head coach at AS Monaco! Mr Jose Mourinho!"
I walked into the centre circle, and waved with gratitude to all four sides of support. Four sides of support, one club.
As asked, I said a few words.
"Bonjour! Please forgive that I do not speak French just yet, I will learn. It is an honour to be training the AS Monaco football team this season. I hope to bring you a lot of success and silverware in the next twelve months. You do not have the greatest team in the world, but you do have the greatest coach. Put the two together for twelve months and you may just come out with the greatest team. I love you all. Au Revoir!"
The clapping and cheering was deafening, even for such a small ground.
I waved for the final time, to all four sides, and headed back down the tunnel.