Jose not keen on 'easy way' to next year's Champions League

John Terry (front) returning from an ankle injury and training with the Chelsea squad ahead of their Champions League clash with Porto at Stamford Bridge.
John Terry (front) returning from an ankle injury and training with the Chelsea squad ahead of their Champions League clash with Porto at Stamford Bridge. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho admitted that the Europa League might be the club's easiest route into the Champions League next season but has no intention of featuring in Europe's second-tier club competition.

Chelsea need only a draw at Stamford Bridge in their final Group G fixture against Porto today to be certain of a place in the Champions League knockout stages.

But a loss, coupled with a Dynamo Kiev victory over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, will result in Chelsea finishing third in the group and competing in the Europa League.

"I know that in this moment it looks to win the Europa League is an easier way to be in the Champions League next season, than to finish in the top four (in the Premier League)," Mourinho told a press conference yesterday.

"But there is another possibility, which is to win the Champions League. It's harder than winning the Europa League, obviously, yes.

"But this is a competition where we are. If you are knocked out of Champions League, you should go home and focus on the domestic competitions.

"But because the rules say third in the group goes into the Europa League, it is a good way for teams knocked out of the Champions League to win the competition and be back in the Champions League next season.

"But we don't want that."

"We want to be in the Champions League and to be playing Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich," he added. "To do that, we have to win tomorrow."

At a lively news conference, the under-pressure manager was in more defiant but good-natured mood than of late.

When asked whether if he still expected to be Chelsea's manager for Monday's Premier League match against leaders Leicester City if he failed to lead Chelsea into the Champions League knockout stages, he replied: "There are no ifs. You are a pessimist - I am an optimist."

Mourinho also maintained that he is confident that he retains the support of the club's owner Roman Abramovich.

"I think I did lots of good things for this club for the owner to know the quality I have," he added.

"He believed in me twice. One, when he brought me back to the club, and the second time when he gave me a new four-year contract.

"I don't think the owner is a person to change with the wind."

Chelsea have been boosted by the return of captain John Terry and Ramires from injury.

REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'Jose not keen on 'easy way' to next year's Champions League'. Print Edition | Subscribe