Tottenham cemented berth in last-two after beating Brentford on Tuesday
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho — one win away from a fifth League Cup win in his career — says the recipe for his success is respect for the competition.
The 57-year-old could deliver Spurs’ first piece of silverware since 2008 if they win the final in April at Wembley.
Mourinho became just the third manager to reach the final with three different clubs following the late Ron Saunders and Ron Atkinson after Spurs beat spirited Championship side Brentford 2-0 on Tuesday.
They will play the winners of Wednesday’s semi-final between holders Manchester City and Manchester United, with whom Mourinho won the trophy in 2017.
Mourinho’s first taste of success in English football came when Chelsea won the 2005 League Cup.
“I came to England in 2004 and I remember that in that period I had to learn the meaning of the cups here and I always took it seriously,” he said.
“If there is any secret, it’s to take it seriously.”
Mourinho has fielded strong sides in the League Cup this season even though many managers see it as a distraction from other challenges and put out weakened teams.
The Portuguese said it was important “to respect what English football is, what English clubs are, what English lower divisions are, and try to not be surprised in any of the games from smaller quality”.
“When you have, like we had this season, a game against Chelsea (in the fourth round), (you have) to go seriously and with ambition,” he said.
“What I sense in the team is exactly that desire. I’m not saying winning mentality, I’m not saying we are this or that.
“I just say we are honest people. The guys since the first game against Chelsea, then Stoke, and now the guys took it seriously.”
Mourinho said he was approaching Sunday’s FA Cup third-round clash away at eighth-tier Marine in the same way.
“Try to be serious, respect the opponents, and try to progress,” he said.
He said big clubs still wanted to win the League Cup even though they might have other priorities — only City, United and Chelsea have won it in the past seven seasons.
“If you see the winners you realise the big clubs want to win it,” he said.
“The big clubs care about it,” he added. “The final says a lot. Tottenham against Manchester City or Tottenham against Manchester United.”