Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka says that Jose Mourinho is a different man away from football as he prepares for a reunion with his friend on Saturday at Old Trafford.
Karanka served as Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid and remains good friends with the Manchester United manager, although the two will clash on New Year’s Eve as Boro look to stop United’s impressive five-game winning streak.
However, Karanka has defended the often vilified Mourinho, who he claims in nothing like the intense, heavily-pressurised soul that is seen on the touchline and at press conferences.
“He’s different because it is impossible to live 24 hours with that pressure, with that tension that he puts into every single training session or every single game. He is different. We are really good friends and we have a really good relationship. But it’s football, it’s 90 minutes, so for 90 minutes, you can’t be friends.
“At the end of the game, we will have a glass of wine, a beer or a Coke and one of us will be happier than the other.”
Karanka also hailed Mourinho’s pre-game preparation, a face that has set him apart from his managerial peers over the last decade, as well as highlighting the strong relationships he forges with his players.
“The way that he prepares the game is the best; the way that he trains is the best; the way that he is in the changing room is the best, so it’s a lot of things and for that reason, he is the best.
“The best example is the relationship he has with the players when he leaves clubs. He has a really good relationship with them all.
“For sure, the players always want to play, but he has a very good relationship with most of the players who have been with him because if he goes to Arsenal, you can see him with (Mesut) Ozil giving him a hug, or when he goes to other places, he has a very good relationship.”
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