LONDON (AFP) - Jose Mourinho says he "cannot promise" Chelsea will be in the Champions League next season, but insists his struggling Premier League titleholders will turn around their season.
The Portuguese had previously stated he was certain they would finish in the top four, but he has changed his mind after Chelsea's poor start, losing half their league games.
When directly asked about the Champions League, Mourinho responded: "I cannot promise" but did say "no" when asked whether he had any doubt they would get out of this run.
That poor spell means an awkward match against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool comes at a particularly inopportune time.
Mourinho confirmed that Branislav Ivanovic is out injured with his hamstring but that Pedro and Diego Costa will have late fitness tests.
"(Thibaut) Courtois and Ivanovic are out. And Pedro and Diego we are going to wait. The others are fine. They have to come through training again. A fitness test in the morning.
"I am a little (hopeful that they can play). If not I don't take them to the hotel.
"It's always difficult find a percentage (on how fit they are). It's more about the confidence. Not desire, because that's there. But the confidence of the players."
Mourinho refused to talk about any of the week's various controversies, from the misconduct charge from last week's 2-1 defeat at West Ham United to the news that former club doctor Eva Carneiro is seeking a constructive dismissal claim.
He is due to find out later Friday (Oct 30) if his appeal against his stadium ban from his comments after the 3-1 defeat to Southampton has been successful.
"Not optimistic, not pessimistic," Mourinho said. "Just wait."
Mourinho did speak glowingly about his opposite number Klopp, saying they have a good relationship and thinks the German is an excellent coach, but also made sure to praise his Anfield predecessor - and former Chelsea coach - Brendan Rodgers.
"I'm not a close friend of Klopp because football doesn't allow that, but he's a guy I like a lot. We have good relations.
"As a manager, his work speaks (for itself). In spite of the last season, one to forget, I consider him one of the top managers in the world.
"They (Liverpool) were a good team. They are a good team. They had good players. They have good players. They had a good manager. They have a new good manager.
"Everything is the same. They changed some details, obviously, in their tactical approach to matches, but this is the nature of the game.
"Especially when you are speaking about two top managers. When you change a top manager for an ordinary one... or a top one to another top one, the level is high.
"They know what to do. It's just a bit of difference on the way they look at football." Mourinho also refused to criticise Eden Hazard after his missed penalty on Tuesday against Stoke, that saw Chelsea eliminated from the League Cup after a shoot-out.
"I think it's not because he missed an important penalty that I'm going to be critical.
"He tried everything in the last game, had a positive game, played for two hours. I'm pleased with his performance. I'm happy with his performance against Stoke. I was happy with his performance against Dynamo Kiev.
"Before that, he was on the bench a couple of matches, obviously because I was not happy and I felt it was the best thing for him, but I'm happy with his positive reaction to that."