MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Jose Mourinho hopes he is still managing in his seventies like Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson, the Real Madrid boss said as he prepared to face him in a Champions League clash "the world will stop to watch".
At 50, the Portuguese has a couple of decades to go if he is to still be working at 71 like Ferguson, whose side host the Spanish champions in their eye-catching Champions League last 16 second leg on Tuesday.
"I think it’s the kind of job where the older you are the better you are because it’s the kind of job where the experiences you live and the thoughts you give to your experiences makes you better," Mourinho told a news conference on Monday.
"So yes I (can) imagine (it) … and I would love that God gives me health so I can do it. Sir Alex is unique, I don’t have any words to add to what everybody says about him and respect he has from everyone."
With the tie between two of the continent’s heavyweights delicately balanced at 1-1, Mourinho said Tuesday’s game seemed an even bigger event than its billing.
"Tomorrow the world will stop to watch this tie," he said. "This doesn’t look (like) a tie, it looks (like) a final, let’s see which teams arrive at Wembley (for the final) but I doubt that the expectation can be bigger than this one."
Although he said he had "no idea" what was going to make the difference between the two sides on the night, the former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Porto manager has plenty of experience of Manchester United encounters to draw on.
Not least the moment nine years ago when as Porto manager he dashed madly up the touchline to celebrate his team knocking United out of the Champions League.
With the experience of more than 100 matches in Europe’s elite club competition now, Mourinho reckons he would react differently if he knocked them out again on Tuesday.
"That match was my first season playing Champions League football," he said.
"I think I can control in a different way my emotions – so if I lose tomorrow I don’t cry and if I win I don’t run 100 metres for sure."
With both teams on good runs – Real having recorded back-to-back wins over arch rivals Barcelona and United clear in the Premier League – Mourinho said he had no idea what would divide them on the night.
"They are in a fantastic run," he said, joking that United had won the Premier League already.
"But we are also in a good form in 2013. That’s the million dollar question – who knows what is going to make the difference."
Real will hope it might be forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored the equaliser in the first leg against his former club.
Team mate Xabi Alonso, who used to face Ronaldo during his Liverpool days, was glad he was playing with him rather than against him.
"He’s in terrific form at the moment, he has been very decisive in many, many important games," he said. "At the moment I am lucky enough to say he is on my side and I prefer to have him on my side."
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