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Jose Mourinho has vowed to halt the decline in Chelsea's standards over recent years, yet the returning Blues boss has insisted hard work and not big spending is the answer to the club's failings.

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Mourinho established Chelsea the leading light in the Premier League during his first stint as Blues boss, but they have fallen behind Manchester's clubs in the race for major domestic honours recently.

Now the Portuguese tactician has challenged the Chelsea squad to prove they are good enough to compete for the Premier League crown next season, insisting work ethic and not his vast spending power will be decisive on his return to Stamford Bridge.

"We have to improve the team, but when I say improve, people are already thinking about how many millions Chelsea will spend," Mourinho told The Sun.

"I mean through work. Work hard, work professionally and make the team better. My work here has to improve players and improve the team. If I don't do that, I am not happy with myself.

"If after that we can improve the team by buying a couple of players it is fantastic but I have to improve the team with my work. We must improve individually, collectively and improve the structure of the club around the team.

"The priority is to improve because in the last two years we have struggled in the league. If Chelsea didn't win the Champions League then the club wouldn't have been in the competition this year. This year we had to fight until the last match to qualify, so we have to improve the team."

Mourinho went on to stress his motivation to bring the Premier League title back to Stamford Bridge will be evident to his squad when they gather for pre-season training next month, as he insists his changed appearance from his first stint at Chelsea does not symbolise an altered mentality.

"When we start the players will meet someone with great motivation," he added. "In spite of my white hairs, which I didn't have in 2004, I'm still very strong at work."


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