XeniaSports – London
Jose Mourinho is not surprised that Brendan Rodgers has Leicester challenging at the top end of the Premier League.
The Northern Irishman was an academy coach when Mourinho was Chelsea manager in the mid-2000s and the pair have maintained a good relationship.
After almost guiding Liverpool to the title, Rodgers enjoyed total domination at Celtic before moving to Leicester in 2019 where he has turned them in to top-four challengers.
The two clubs meet at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, where a win would take the Foxes above Spurs.
“I’m not impressed, I know how good he is,” Mourinho said. “When I met him as a young coach in the academy, and coming to join us in the first team and sharing with us many moments, I understood that he was a young guy with a great future.
“So anything he’s doing in his career is not a surprise for me, not at all. He’s very talented, he was and probably still is a guy who likes to study, learn and improve. He’s creative, he knows what he wants.
“He’s a very good coach. Period. He’s a very good coach so it’s not a surprise for me.”
Mourinho admits that it can be sometimes difficult to go head-to-head against someone who is a personal friend.
“Honestly, after the game when I play against my friends, when I win or my team wins of course I’m happy, of course I’m very happy, but there is a space for feeling sorry for your friends and the opposite I believe it is exactly the same,” he said.
“So for example with Manchester United, when I beat, we beat Middlesbrough, where my brother (Aitor) Karanka was on the other side, I was very happy.
“I jumped, we scored in the last minute. I was sorry for my brother.
“When (Carlo) Ancelotti at Everton, they won against us. I believe that Carlo was super happy but I also believe that inside of him was a little bit of space for, ‘I’m sorry for Jose’.
“So I think this happens. Not before the game, not during the game but after the game that between people that have strong connections I believe there is that little space.
“I think you understand what I mean about that. No friends during the game but friends after the game so there is space for these feelings.”