Jose Mourinho claimed the worst period of his career arrived too late to fully benefit him but described it as “an amazing learning process” in a television interview given days before his departure from Chelsea.
The Portuguese’s second spell in charge at Stamford Bridge came to an end on Thursday, the manager having departed “by mutual consent” just eight months after securing his third and Chelsea’s fourth Premier League title.
The Blues’ defence of their crown has been an unexpected and spectacular failure to date, the team having managed just four wins from 16 league matches to sit 16th on the table, one point clear of the relegation zone.
Before learning of his removal, the 52-year-old gave an in-depth interview to BT Sport, scheduled to be broadcast later on the day of his departure, in which he insisted Chelsea’s horror run of form was proving to be a valuable learning curve.
“I have to say it’s a good experience,” he said. “An experience that probably came too late, [it has] come after 15 years.
“I was ready to live with it, to cope with it because [of my] maturity and experience … but I can imagine that if this happened in the beginning probably my career would have been even better.
“This is an amazing learning process. About myself. About the players I think I know everything. About myself I still have some things to discover. And this period was important for me. I’m better than I thought.”
Asked if he wanted to be measured on his response to the first major period of adversity in his time as a manager, the two-time Champions League winner said: “I prefer to be judged on my career.”
Juande Ramos, Carlo Ancelotti and Guus Hiddink are among the names touted as potential candidates to replace Mourinho as caretaker, as manager-less Chelsea prepare to host fellow strugglers Sunderland on Saturday.