Mourinho says onus is on Manchester City to reclaim the league title they lost last season
Chelsea boss happy to pile the pressure on big-spending visitors in advance of key clash at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho keeps an eye on his charges as they train in Cobham. “Manchester City are a very good team. In fact they are two very good teams.” Photo: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Jose Mourinho believes the onus is on Manchester City to satisfy heady expectations and regain the Premier League title this season given the lavish spending sanctioned by Sheikh Mansour and the resultant “unbelievable squad of players” that has been assembled at the Etihad stadium.
City travel to Chelsea tomorrow a point behind the Londoners, who have yet to lose a Premier League home game under Mourinho in 64 matches across two spells at the club. The Portuguese has benefited from Roman Abramovich’s own massive investment over his time at Stamford Bridge but, having secured the club’s first championship for half a century at the first time of asking in 2005, he believes the same exacting scrutiny that fell upon Chelsea should now be applied to City’s nouveau riche.
Asked if Manuel Pellegrini’s team should be considered favourites for the title after spending around €117 million in the summer on a quintet of new arrivals to replenish the ranks of the 2012 Premier League winners, Mourinho said: “People said that of us in 2004 and 2005, so now it’s up to them to say ‘yes’.
“They have an unbelievable squad of players. They have just won two matches away from home, at West Ham and in Moscow. They are a very good team. In fact, they are two very good teams: one playing and another one on the bench or in the stands. A fantastic squad, a really good team.
Mourinho preferred not to suggest he coveted the options at City’s disposal.
“No, I’m not envious and I’m not an envious person,” he said - and he acknowledged no great advantage, publicly at least, that Chelsea will benefit from Vincent Kompany’s absence through injury.
“It’s a surprise to me that he’s out because I thought he was going to play, but it doesn’t change things,” he said. “A team that have Nastasic and Lescott and Richards and Garcia still have four players who can play central defender.
“City are a squad who, season after season, have grown stronger with huge investment. They and Manchester United are the last two teams to be champions here, but everybody must make it tougher for them now.
“We can improve in relation to last season because last year Chelsea, in November and December, were far away from the title. Tottenham Hotspur have made fantastic investment. Arsenal are the leaders now. Liverpool are playing one match a week, which is a great advantage: it’s one thing is to play four competitions and another to play two, as they do now. So that’s the situation where we are.”
Chelsea will welcome back Ashley Cole after a rib injury and are expected to retain Fernando Torres, who scored twice in midweek but has managed a solitary Premier League goal this calendar year, and recall David Luiz in central defence.
Pellegrini, meanwhile, maintains he has no issue with Mourinho despite their previous sparring in Spain as he sought to ignore any mind games from the Portuguese.
After succeeding Pellegrini at Real Madrid, where the Chilean finished second in La Liga, Mourinho claimed that “second is the first loser” and mocked his predecessor for moving on to Malaga.
At the time Pellegrini responded with a barb of his own about Mourinho’s playing style.
But any prospect of another outbreak of jousting before tomorrow’s match between Chelsea and City at Stamford Bridge was avoided by the Chilean refusing to be drawn into any potential conflict.
“I can’t tell you what is in Mourinho’s mind,” Pellegrini said. “We are very different, yes. I am not telling you I don’t like Jose. I am a different person, different style, not only football. I never get involved in the moment and I will not get involved now.”