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Jose Mourinho: Relationship with Abramovich 'respectful' at Chelsea

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has said that he was "never a friend" of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and was "never close" to him, but they had a respectful relationship.

Mourinho will return to Chelsea to face his former employers on Sunday, for the first time since he was sacked by the club in December. That was the second time that he had left the club during the Abramovich era, having also departed in September 2007 following his first stint as Chelsea manager.

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"It was always an owner-manager relationship -- very respectful. He was never a friend. We were never close to each other," Mourinho said.

The United manager is still revered by many Chelsea fans after bringing them three league titles -- in 2005, 2006 and 2015. Last season was a torrid one for him though, as he left with Chelsea in 16th place, having suffered nine defeats from their opening 16 league games.

The 53-year-old said he was not scarred by the experience though, explaining: "That period came when I was already a grown man, a stable manager. I was emotionally strong. I was not a kid. It didn't happen in the first years of my career.

Jose Mourinho says he and Roman Abramovich had a respectful and professional relationship.

"I was lucky to have a big club like Manchester United that focused on my career, not on the last three months, and I can stay in the competition [the Premier League] which I most love with a big project and challenge."

Looking back on his time at Chelsea during that second stint as a whole, Mourinho said: "Some managers, when they leave clubs, like to wash their dirty clothes in public and speak about what happened. I leave the clubs and I leave with a very good feeling -- I did everything to succeed, I gave everything to the club.

"I don't like to go back and speak, especially of bad things. At Chelsea, there were so many good things, so many friends for life, and an amazing empathy with the supporters. I don't forget. I keep it but I keep it for myself."

Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.

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