European Cup triumph of 2012 downgraded by Mourinho

Winning Champions League not always down to ‘great work’, says Chelsea coach

José Mourinho has said winning the Champions League is not necessarily a "consequence of great work"

ahead of Chelsea's confrontation tonight with Roberto Di Matteo. The current Chelsea manager suggested that a better gauge of achievement was building a consistently successful team.

Mourinho has twice won the trophy – the first time was with Porto in Schalke's Veltins-Arena a decade ago – but it was Di Matteo who secured Chelsea's only European Cup, in 2012 in Munich. The team included a number of the present squad: Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Mikel John Obi and Gary Cahill all played at the Allianz Arena, with Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Ramires suspended. Chelsea, who finished sixth in the Premier League that season, won on penalties.

Mourinho's target is qualification for the knockout phase – victory against Schalke would guarantee top place in Group G – but he is also intent on longer-term progress. "I want to win the next match, I want to make the team come up," he said. "Winning the Champions League is not a consequence of great work. Sometimes it is not. You can win the Champions League in the worst season. You can finish fifth and win the Champions League, right? Liverpool did, and Chelsea too.


“So the Champions League is not something where you can say: ‘This is the direction I want to go because I’ve won that competition.’ A knockout competition is something that always has a big percentage of unpredictability. I can do nothing to guarantee winning it. I can only work to improve my team all the time, make a very good team, like we are doing.”

Strongest team

Mourinho will pick his strongest available team in Gelsenkirchen as he seeks to win the group at Schalke’s expense, although he would not be drawn on his opposite number.

“Don’t ask me to speak about him,” he said. “History is history. He was on the Chelsea bench when they won the Champions League, so his is an historic name at this club. My name is also in the history of this club. A club is made of many names, not one or two or one player or one manager. I made my history here and now I have the chance to make more history here, and he was Chelsea manager and he did his history here.

"Now we have two matches but it would be better for us to qualify here. We have so many matches in December – if we can avoid a crucial match and that pressure, it would be very good. The reality is we need points. This team is one in a state of evolution and going into the Europa League would be very bad. A team gets better and evolution is faster when they play in the best competition against the best teams." Guardian Service