Jose Mourinho won the Champions League

Jose Mourinho won the Champions League at Inter because I had built a team with a strong mentality - Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini could not be more relaxed. We have just finished talking about Galatasaray’s Champions League meeting with Chelsea and he invites me to stay and watch him take training.

As we wander over, Didier Drogba, who will face his former side tomorrow for the first time since helping them become champions of Europe, is entrancing his colleagues with the skills that made him a Chelsea legend.

Despite having Drogba, Mancini admitted to me only moments earlier:  “We don’t have a lot of chance even at home because Chelsea are better, one of the best teams in Europe. But for Galatasaray to just play Chelsea is an important moment and we need to do a good job.”

However, this does not mean Mancini feels inferior to Jose Mourinho. Mancini was sacked by Inter Milan in 2008 less than a fortnight after winning Serie A for the third time in a row. In came Mourinho, who within two seasons had outshone his predecessor by winning the Treble and making them European champions for the first time since 1965. Would Mancini accept this makes Mourinho’s record better?

“No,” answers Mancini emphatically. “Mourinho won the Champions League (right) because he took a good team. He took a team that, like Manchester City, I had built. A team that had a strong mentality. When I went to Inter, they played very bad football and we changed this.

“To win a Champions League you should be lucky. Champions League is a difficult competition but a strange one. Strange because you can win your group in October, November, December and, after maybe February [in the knock-out stages], everything can change.”

His own life has changed since he was sacked by Manchester City the day after last year’s FA Cup Final defeat by Wigan. After a few months back in Italy, he arrived in Istanbul in October and says: “After City I decided to stay at home for 10 months to recover from the rain in Manchester.” But, while he laughs at this familiar description of Manchester weather, he does not find remotely funny the equally widely held view that his successor, Manuel Pellegrini, has revolutionised City.

“This is what they say now but you know I changed [football] history in Manchester. I changed Manchester City history on the pitch. Those first two years in Manchester were very difficult. You needed to work hard. I took a team that didn’t win for a long time and, in three years, I changed their mentality. City became a winning team and started to win at home, win away. When we won the championship, we won all the games at home, only one draw against Sunderland. We won in Manchester against United easy, 6-1. We dominated all the games against Manchester United and they were not a small team. For two years, we were the best team in the Premier League. All these top players that are in City now I bought: Nasri, Yaya, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko.”

He also claims credit for bringing  Fernandinho to the Etihad despite the Brazilian’s £30million arrival in July being two months after Mancini’s exit. The Italian says: “I bought him in January because I thought Fernandinho was a good player for us.”

But surely Pellegrini has removed the shackles Mancini imposed on the team? City have scored 69 goals in 26 games this term; at the same stage under Mancini last season they had 48 goals.

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