Jose Mourinho takes aim at Chelsea claiming they are title favourites
Jose Mourinho has cranked up the pressure on Chelsea by claiming his former club are favourites for the Premier League title and cannot hide from their position as champions.
And the Manchester United manager, who admitted he was chasing a wing-back but may have to wait until January to sign one, claimed Chelsea’s decision to allow Nemanja Matic to move to Old Trafford will only be a problem if they fail to sign England midfielder Danny Drinkwater from Leicester City.
Chelsea suffered a shock 3-2 opening day defeat at home to Burnley, while manager Antonio Conte is reportedly on a collision course with owner Roman Abramovich over transfers.
But Mourinho claimed Chelsea were still the favourites for the championship as he wasted little opportunity to pile the pressure on his old club, who are preparing a second bid for Drinkwater following Matic’s departure for United to add to the earlier arrival of Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco.
Mourinho’s remarks came shortly after he insisted no one should be lulled into thinking United were the “best team in the country, the favourites or the dream team” after their emphatic 4-0 victory over West Ham last Sunday.
“For me the favourite is the champion, always,” Mourinho said ahead of United’s trip to Swansea on Saturday lunchtime. “It doesn’t mean you are going to win it I think it is the stamp that you have when you are champion, it is that the next season you are the favourite.”
Addressing Chelsea’s continuing search for more signings and Liverpool and Tottenham’s battles to keep Philippe Coutinho and Danny Rose respectively, Mourinho added: “If they [United’s rivals] have problems [in the transfer market], the problems are going to finish in a couple of weeks because in a couple of weeks the market is closed and they don’t have problems anymore.
“They have very good teams, very good players and I don’t see any reason for them not to be fighting for the title.
“When people say, for example, Chelsea lost an important midfield player [in Matic], if you lose one but you buy Bakayoko and Drinkwater, for example, what’s the problem? The problem is when you sell and you don’t buy.
“When you sell and you keep buying, what’s the problem? You are probably even stronger.”
While rivals scramble for more signings, Mourinho said he was prepared to wait until January for the fourth signing he wants and stated his preference for a wing back over a winger, at the same time as insisting France forward Anthony Martial retains his backing. United have been linked with a move for Rose, who feels undervalued at Spurs, while Inter Milan were interested in signing Martial on loan as a makeweight in any potential deal that took Croatia winger Ivan Perisic to Old Trafford.
“I have faith in him [Martial],” Mourinho said. “Probably the player I was looking for wasn’t a pure winger because I have pure wingers. Probably the player I was looking for was a player that allows me to play with three at the back and have a wing-back.
“As a pure attacking player, Anthony is a good player. I look at some of my players and I’m sure that some of them will be better this season than they were last season, and Anthony is that for sure.”
Mourinho hopes that plans to shut the transfer window before the start of next season will be approved, and dismissed fears that bringing forward the deadline would leave Premier League clubs at a disadvantage to their European rivals.
“As football manager and not a market man I would prefer the window to close as soon as possible,” he said.
“So everybody knows the players we have, the deals will be done earlier and nobody would be waiting for the last week and we wouldn’t have the situation of sometimes a player plays game number one for a team and game number two for another team.
“And the question marks somebody puts - if other leagues don’t close at the same time, are we in danger of losing players in the last couple of weeks? My question is how many clubs in the world are powerful enough to buy the best players in the Premier League and the answer, I think, is very obvious.
“So the risk is minimal and even those powerful clubs have to know if we can’t buy after, let’s say 14th or 15th of August more or less, if we can’t buy players we’re not going to sell.
“So if they are interested in players from the Premier League they also have to do it before the limit.”