APPIANO GENTILE - Manchester United, Siena and Christmas. José Mourinho commented on the Champions League draw and looked ahead to Saturday's trip to Tuscany in his last press conference of 2008, insisting that his players will keep their concentration high during the winter break.
This is what he had to say:
You wanted Manchester United and your wish has come true.
"Yes. I wanted Manchester United because I want to face the best. They are European champions and in two days' time they can become world champions. They have the Ballon d'Or winner in their team and they have a great coach in Alex. They have lots of great players besides Ronaldo, they play in a fantastic stadium with a fantastic atmosphere. All this is very motivating for us. We will play the first match at home, hopefully San Siro will be full and there will be a very exciting atmosphere. In the return leg in Manchester we will face a team that I have some unforgettable memories of. I'm happy to return to Manchester."
You play your last match of the year in Siena and you will certainly want to finish 2008 in the best possible way.
"It's an important match, just like every championship match. It's the last game of the year and it would be good to keep our lead over the chasing pack. We will have to do everything to win because I don't want this lead to be reduced. We didn't train much today but we did very well. The team had an excellent attitude and they have put aside the festive spirit to fully focus on a difficult match against a team that plays well at home."
Could the Christmas break affect your concentration?
"No. Our concentration is not at risk, but I need football to feel happy. I'm happy at the moment and I'm happy at Inter and, in general, in Italian football. The only thing I miss about the Premiership is the matches at Christmas because it's a fantastic period to play football and make happy thousands of fans who take watch the games with great attention. But there won't be any problems when the team returns. We will have our same level of physical and mental condition."
Would you prefer not to have a Christmas break in Italy?
"No. You have to respect culture and tradition. It has always been like this in Italy. I am no one to change these traditions and I don't even want anyone to think that it's my intention to change them. It's no problem for me, I adapt. I just wanted to underline the beauty of my past experience in England."
As a Christmas present, can you tell us your team to face Siena?
(Laughs) "As a Christmas present... Julio Cesar, Maicon, Cordoba, Samuel, Maxwell, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari, Ibrahimovic, plus two others. That's nine out of ten."
And a present for 2009?