ATHENS - Speaking at the UEFA press conference in Athens on the eve of Panathinaikos-Inter, José Mourinho replied to a journalist who asked him to respond to Claudio Ranieri's theory that the Portuguese coach is building a team which plays with one striker.
"If it's a provocation, I won't reply," said Mourinho. "If it's a compliment, I thank him. Is it a correct technical evaluation? I don't know. I just know that my teams always play to win, and that against Catania on Saturday we played with eleven men and four strikers and two of the most attacking full-backs in the world, and for fifty minutes with ten men and three strikers."
The Inter boss dismissed theories that his teams focus on playing defensive football, adding: "You risk missing lots of chances when you take the risk to create lots of chances. A player never misses penalties if he doesn't take them. A team that always plays to defend never makes mistakes.
"Before coming to Italy - I don't know for how long I'll be here, but I hope to be here for all three years of my contract and even longer - I promised myself that Italian football wouldn't change me. I have come here with my ideas and I will leave with my ideas. I will never play just to defend. It might happen in certain phases or in certain matches if the opposing team shows complete supremacy, but this will never be my philosophy."
Asked he feels the pressure of having been recruited by Inter to win the club's first Champions League since 1965, Mourinho replied: "Who said that? Moratti has never told me he recruited me to win the Champions League. He knows how hard it is, and that it's the details that make the difference in the Champions League. What counts is playing at a high level, in both the Champions League and the championship. I lost a Champions League semi-final with Chelsea on penalties, and I don't think I played any worse when I won it with Porto.
"I can't accept an assessment of the quality of my work, of a coach like myself, on the basis of winning or not winning. But beware, my teams always win something, and I don't mean the Super Cup."
Mourinho says Inter will need to perform at a higher level if they are to get their European campaign off to a victorious start: "We need a better Inter than the one in the championship if we are to win tomorrow against a team that plays well, that is full of Brazilians who are good on the ball, and that will be supported by a great crowd. Every team is motivated, everything's more difficult in this competition. A small detail can change everything.
"Tomorrow I'm expecting Inter to control the game from the start, keep possession and hit our opponents as soon as possible. And I'm confident in my team."