Jose refuses to guarantee Champs League next season

LONDON • For the first time this season, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has cast doubts over whether his champions can finish in a Champions League spot.

Following his side's 1-3 loss to Southampton at the start of this month, the Portuguese had said he was still "convinced that we finish top four".

Another Premier League defeat by West Ham later, and he has instead said that he cannot guarantee that the Blues will end this season among the four Champions League spots, although insisting that failure to feature in Europe's elite club competition next season will not diminish the club's status.

"I can't promise. Chelsea are a big club. It's the club that I choose to come to. It's a club I live in a very specific way every day," he said ahead of today's home clash with Liverpool.

"Liverpool are a big club, Manchester United are a super big club. Last season Liverpool won nothing and didn't qualify for the Champions League.

"Two years ago, Manchester United didn't qualify for the Champions League - not even Europa League - and won nothing. They are still a monster club, but that's football."

Chelsea lie 15th in the table on 11 points - nine points adrift of United in fourth place.

Mourinho also refused to comment on whether he has received reassurances from Chelsea's board and owner Roman Abramovich over his future as manager.

"I don't have to tell you," said the 52-year-old.

Since the Southampton defeat, Chelsea have won only once in four matches in all competitions. Mourinho is expecting another tough game against new Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and his men.

Whether asked whether he thinks Klopp would be vastly different from his predecessor Brendan Rodgers, he said: "He might change some details obviously in the tactical approach to the match, but this is the nature of the game.

"When you change a top one to another top one, the level is high, they know what to do. It's just a bit of difference to the way they think about football."

Mourinho will at least be in the dugout at Stamford Bridge today as the misconduct charge he incurred after being sent to the stands at West Ham to be heard next week at the earliest.

He had received a fine and a suspended one-game stadium ban by the Football Association for criticising the referee after the loss to Southampton.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2015, with the headline 'Jose refuses to guarantee Champs League next season'. Print Edition | Subscribe