Jose Mourinho says Chelsea will not win the Premier League title this season, but insists it will be a very different prospect next year.
In what has become something of a theme for Mourinho since returning to Stamford Bridge last summer, he claims the “priority” this term is to work to the required level.
However, the Blues boss believes that once his squad have been with him for a full year -- and new signings such as Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah have had time to settle in -- we will see start to see a very different Chelsea.
“I don't think so,” Mourinho said when asked about winning the title, and whether he could again take out the champagne he provided at a news conference for his birthday come the end of the season. “I think you have to drink champagne because we are improving. We are improving a lot -- the team, the players. So the prospect of champagne in the future is good. We are going in a good direction. But this season? I don't think so.
“We have to try to keep the good form we have, and let things happen naturally. As I've always said, our main objective this season is to build a team. The best way to build a team is to be competing for things. When you play Europa League, no evolution; when you play in the Premier League 20 points behind the leader, no evolution.
“Evolution comes at the same time you build a team and have serious competition. So we need this. We need to be top of the league. We need to be top three or four, to play against [Manchester] City and to play for something. If you play against City and there's a distance of 10 points, it's no good. But to do that with one or two points difference? The players need to know the Champions League knockout phase -- some of my players have not experienced that. So everything is coming to us.
“I think, next season, we're going to have a very strong team, starting from day one with everybody. This season [Samuel] Eto'o started late, we sold [Juan] Mata, Matic and Salah cannot play in the Champions League.
"Next season, we start from day one with the squad -- more maturity, tactically stronger. I imagine we'll be strong. But this season we are in the competitions. I'm not saying [we must] win the competitions, but we try and win the next match.”