Jose Mourinho has revealed that he is targeting the record of most UEFA Champions League matches as a manager, ahead of Manchester United’s return to the competition this month.
Sir Alex Ferguson holds the all-time record with 194 games, while Mourinho – who has won the Champions League with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010 has managed 133 matches in Europe’s elite tournament to date.
Mourinho says returning to European football’s biggest stage is a positive thing for everyone at the club and admits he has Sir Alex’s achievement in his sights.
“It’s good for the players, it’s good for me, it’s good for the club,” he told MUTV recently. “It is where we want to go and I think the credit we deserve for last season was exactly to be in the habitat that is not our natural habitat, to do everything to win the Europa League like we did and to do everything we can to respect the second biggest competition in European football.
“But the Champions League is where we want to be and maybe I’m too ambitious, I don’t know, but I want to be the manager with more matches in the Champions League.
He added: “I know that I am in the top five or six but I’m quite far, especially from the top one Sir Alex, but I will fight hard to go for that record. Last season, I lost a season in the chase for this record but Manchester United is where Manchester United has to be and I’m really happy with that.
“The Champions League night is a unique experience for everyone. I have some players without that great experience, I think it will be fabulous for them and the fans to be back in the Champions League and to have the initial three matches to be played at Old Trafford, I think is fantastic.”
Manchester United have been placed in Group A alongside Portuguese giants Benfica, Swiss champions Basel and CSKA Moscow of Russia, and although the draw could have been much tougher, Mourinho feels it will still pose many challenges for the team.
“I think when some people say ‘great draw’, I don’t think they know the difficulties of football, I think they don’t know the history of these teams and what we are going to face, so for me, it’s a difficult draw and any team can get points in any match,” he said.
“It’s not one of these groups where you have two top teams and two weaker teams and, for Champions League qualification in the group phase, I have some experience and more than 120 matches.
“Sometimes it’s better to have two top teams and the discussion is just about who is first or second. We have four teams who can get points, they will share points, they will discuss every result, so I think the draw is difficult.”
United will kick off the Champions League campaign at home to Basel on Tuesday 12 September.