• World Cup

Mourinho talks up England hopes, backs Hodgson

ESPN staff
October 18, 2013
Jose Mourinho has backed Roy Hodgson © Getty Images

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has claimed that England's side is filled with quality, while he fully backs Roy Hodgson over the "space monkey" controversy.

Mourinho said he disagrees "completely" with the idea that England are "struggling with good players".

And to prove his point, Mourinho cited the difficult choice that Hodgson has at left-back, with both Leighton Baines and Chelsea's Ashley Cole pushing for a starting spot.

"When people sometimes say England is struggling with good players, I disagree completely," Mourinho said. "You see the England side, and where are they playing? They're not playing second division teams, or teams from the football third world. They're from Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, a couple from Everton.

"On the bench, the quality of players they have there... England have good players. At left-back, Roy doesn't have a problem. Ashley Cole was injured. He played Baines, who played well. When Ashley is back, Ashley is Ashley. They have [Ryan] Bertrand - a good player - and the under-21s with a good left-back. It's Roy's problem, but it's a good problem. He has good players."

Mourinho also stated it was not an issue that Frank Lampard had been dropped by England for the game against Poland, adding that he expects the veteran midfielder to be part of Hodgson's World Cup squad.

"I think he can [be part of the squad]. I don't think he or anybody can play the same football, the same characteristics of his football, when you are 20 to when you are 35," he said. "You have to play different, adapt to a new situation, which he is doing very well.

"It's good for me. In my first period here we were playing with three midfielders, and one in front of the defensive line giving the other two the freedom to move forward. Now we are playing with two midfielders and a No. 10. The two midfielders are more positional. They don't need to go forward as much because we have four attacking players permanently.

"This is good for his new life as a more mature player. He is in a stable moment in his career and can keep this stability for quite a time. His game and qualities are very adapted to Chelsea and the national team.

"They also play with two midfielders and one behind a striker, so he's more of a positional player. It's easy for him. The way he works, the way he has his hectic work and lives his job, his passion for his job, no problem to do that and arrive in good conditions."

Mourinho also moved to defend Hodgson over the "space monkey" controversy, pointing to the reaction of the England squad as a whole as a sign he was not in the wrong.

"I think the best judges are the players," he said. "The best judges. When the players come out and support the manager. When the kid involved comes out and supporters the manager. No story.

"The only story is the players are the best judges. They were in the dressing room with him [Hodgson]. My feeling is that he's a man, a good man, a man with principles. He has my support because I don't believe he was wishing to hurt somebody. I support Roy.

"But I'm not important. The players are important and the way the players come out and support the manager, end of story. Support the national team and the manager, and let's hope everything goes well with them.

"That's modern society [the leaks]. Modern walls. You tell your agent, your father, your girlfriend, and somebody tells somebody else and stories come out. Some stories are true. Many are not true. In this case the words are correct but the meaning is innocent. End of story."

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