Jose Mourinho has said a total of five teams are capable of winning the Premiership title this season in an interview in which he emphasised how close the league will be this year than last.
Chelsea won the league last season having led the table from August until May with only Manchester City as realistic challengers. This season, the Portuguese thinks there will be at least five that can claim the trophy, with one big club missing out on the Champions League once again.
Speaking to ESPN pundit Shaka Hislop, who was West Ham’s goalkeeper for some years in the 1990s, Mourinho said this:
“When I came to Chelsea in 2004, England at that time was Man Utd and Arsenal. Chelsea were coming with all the ambition of M Abramovich but there was a big difference between the candidates and the others. Most teams in the league couldn’t even dream of reaching a European spot or a Champions League spot.
“The distance was huge, but in this moment it is different. There are five teams that can win the title, clearly five teams can win it. One of them will not even qualify for the Champions League. Two years ago Man City were champions and Man Utd were out of the Champions League. Last year Chelsea champions and Liverpool out of the Champions League. Next season somebody will be champion and somebody will be out of the Champions League.
“Apart from that, a lot of teams want to reach the Europa League. Tottenham, Everton, Southampton and lots of other teams. The money is coming and coming and coming, and every year it’s more. You can feel something this season that I have never felt.
“The level of investment made by the smaller clubs: Cabaye to Crystal Palace- a player that left Newcastle two years ago to PSG to get lots of money is coming to Crystal Palace. The players that are going to Stoke, the players that are going to Everton, the players that are going to every club in the Premier League means that the league is getting much more difficult. That is what I felt last season and this season I feel the Premier League is top of the competition.”
Mourinho continued when pushed on the amount of money being spent by Premiership clubs.
“If they can, they can. I am the last to criticise and I know that I was criticised as a Chelsea manager in the time when Mr Abramovich arrived and invested a lot. I don’t forget the words ‘Chelsea is buying the title’ but now the same is happening and I am the last one to be critical. All I’l say is for us it is a big challenge. In football you cannot buy titles. You can buy players and players and players but you cannot buy titles.”
On his own spending this summer, and whether or not Chelsea are a complete side, Mourinho continued:
“There is one point that always hurts me, and that is when I have to be loyal to my players but when we also have to improve. These guys last year gave me so much and they made me champions, it’s hard. When you have had a bad season it’s easy, you can say ‘One, two, three, four, five- out. You didn’t give enough’.
“When you have won big things it is more difficult. I open the door for the players that are not happy- for the ones that want a different move in their career, for the ones that didn’t play many matches.
“This is a squad of champions. We were champions together and even the third striker played ten matches and scored five goals. Everybody can stay, everybody is welcome to stay. In the end we have the same team as last year, we made a change with Petr and Begovic, we made a change with Drogba and Falcao but apart from that we are the same squad. We need a couple of defenders because we lost Filipe Luis but these are just adjustments.
“It will be a challenge for us because the other clubs will improve straight away because the top quality players they have bought and we have to improve ourselves. I have to be a better coach, they have to be better players, we must have a better medical department. We must improve by ourselves and it is a great challenge.”