Monday 11 December 2017

Jose Mourinho: Winning the title will be harder this season

Mourinho expects big challenge from strong chasing pack

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has welcomed the English FA’s new stance on abuse of referees.
Jose Mourino expects Arsenal to be one of the clubs challenging Chelsea for the Premier League title

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho feels it will be more difficult for his side to retain the Premier League title with the other contenders having made strong additions to their squads.

Chelsea won the title at a canter last season, finishing on 87 points, eight ahead of second-placed Manchester City.

"A year ago we got immediately Costa and Fabregas which was a quick reaction to the fact that we didn't win the title," Mourinho said.

"This year you can see from the reaction of Liverpool, Arsenal Man City, Man United.

"They've bought strong they've bought well. They are trying to make an impact because they couldn't get the title."

The 52-year-old Mourinho expects a close title race and low scoring season with smaller teams also attracting strong players.

"Maybe I am wrong but I have the idea that less points will win the title this season," the Portuguese added. "Other teams are investing very well and this is not normal. Smaller teams are getting some of the best players from some countries. Those players usually only leave their counties for the best clubs but now they go to the promoted teams. Now it is their competitive nature and their quality that top teams have to play against. It is more difficult."

Mourinho, currently in his second stint as manager with Chelsea, has won three Premier League titles, two League Cups, one FA Cup and one Community Shield with the London-based club.

Meanwhile, Mourinho has welcomed the English Football Association's crackdown on abuse of match officials, despite his at times fractious relationship with football's authorities.

A new code of conduct will see touchline staff who abuse officials first given a verbal warning before being sent to the stand in the event of a repeat offence.

The Chelsea manager says he behaved well last term, before pointedly referring to the moment he was pushed in the chest by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger at Stamford Bridge last October.

"I am very happy because last season I had fantastic behaviour on the touchline. I was never sent to the stands, I was never punished for my behaviour," Mourinho said.

"I always had good relations with the fourth official I had a new experience in my career, which is always welcome, because I was pushed in the technical area by another manager and it was a good experience for me to keep my emotional control."

That was the moment Mourinho and Wenger's long-running feud turned physical and the pair did not shake hands after last Sunday's Community Shield, when the Frenchman claimed a first win over the Portuguese at the 14th attempt. Mourinho insists he would shake Wenger's hand in future.

He said: "As a manager in a football stadium, I never refuse a handshake with a rival. By respect of my club and by respect of football I would never refuse a handshake with a football manager in a football stadium."

Mourinho says he is thinking of getting the best out of his existing players, rather than adding to his Chelsea squad.

The Premier League champions have five first-team defenders and Mourinho has spoken of his wish to add to his options, but Everton have rebuffed offers for John Stones.

Mourinho knows deals could yet be done but the transfer window, which closes at 6pm on September 1, is not his focus.

"The transfer window is over, you know what I mean?" Mourinho added. "I don't like the transfer window when the (Premier League) competition starts after tomorrow, I don't like transfer window during the competition. I have to think about how to get the best out of my players."

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