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Jose Mourinho: West Ham finishing in top four 'would be amazing'

Ahead of his side's Boxing Day English Premier League clash against West Ham United, Chelsea boss praised his opponents performances this season.

Jose Mourinho believes Sam Allardyce should be crowned Manager of the Year if he can keep West Ham in fourth place.

The Hammers spent Christmas in the top four for the first time since 1985-86 and visit league leaders Chelsea on Boxing Day.

And Mourinho, who accused them of playing "19th Century football" when they drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge in January, said he now regrets that accusation and praised Allardyce for his "fantastic" feats so far this season.

The Portuguese thinks that only Chelsea, who are three points clear of second-placed Manchester City, deserve more acclaim than West Ham so far.

He said in a news conference: "If they finish in the top four, manager of the season is Big Sam and team of the season is West Ham because it would be an amazing achievement compared with the investment other teams did. But why not, why not?"

"Chelsea is top of the league and deserves [the praise] and after us, West Ham because to be fourth, and for a team that everyone was expecting them to fight for survival, is a fantastic achievement.

Mourinho suggested he regretted his criticism of West Ham last season by calling it "silly words" and thinks that Allardyce has proved to his critics that he is no long-ball dinosaur.

He added: "Big Sam is showing now he is not a defensive coach, who only knows how to play defensive and direct and long balls. He is now giving a different image of himself.

"He has a big history in the Premier League. Now this season he is giving not just the image of a very competitive coach that plays in a certain way. He is playing in a different way and that is what he deserves. He has a fantastic career in the Premier League.

"He has my respect. Last season I had a couple of words about the fact the start wasting time after two minutes of the game, which I don't like, but I respect him as a coach and am happy he is doing well."

Jose Mourinho now has nothing but respect for Sam Allardyce.

West Ham helped deny Chelsea the title with their rearguard action at Stamford Bridge but Mourinho now said that was justified because they were in a relegation battle.

He explained: "I think both teams are different from last season. We are a better team. We have more creativity, more goals, more attacking dynamics and West Ham is also a better team. They have better players. They are not a team just to try not to concede. They also try to score goals.

"Last season they were in big trouble. When you are fighting for relegation, every point is a point and you have to do everything to get points."

Mourinho revealed he now classes Allardyce as a friend after getting to know him better when they were both managers in the a summer charity match, Soccer Aid.

He said: "We exchange lots of messages. I like him very, very much."

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