Jose Mourinho: We are contenders
LONDON -- Jose Mourinho has declared Chelsea as "title contenders" for the Premier League but stopped short of saying they are favourites.
Mourinho had repeatedly played down his side's chances last season -- labelling Chelsea a "little horse" in the title race -- but he said he was now "very happy" with his squad after signing players including Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis.
"Last season we did not feel as a title contender but we finished very close to the title," Mourinho said. "We were not feeling one of the top favourites for the Champions League and we played the semifinal. We did well.
"This season we bought some key players after our analysis of last season and our squad. We believe. More than believe we are already feeling that these new players brought the squad and the team into another dimension.
"I imagine the words you want to hear from me and the words I can say -- because I can feel and I don't think anybody can criticise me because of that -- is, yes, we are title contenders.
"If you expect me to say we're going to win the Premier League I can't say that. I have to respect this competition. It is of the country championships the only one which has more than two title contenders, the only country with five or six -- for sure it's the only one.
"I have to respect the opponents and the efforts of the other clubs to improve their top teams. To tell what we feel and I discussed that with the players this morning, we all feel we're title contenders."
Specifically asked whether Chelsea are favourites, as many around the game have stated, Mourinho replied: "I prefer to say that anyone who wants to be in it [will be in it].
"We are title contenders. Every other team that wants to be is welcome to that title race because we want to be in that group."
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It was also put to Mourinho that he could be considered a failure if he went a third successive season without winning a league title.
"Depends," he replied. "You have some different ways of analysing things. You don't look with the same eyes to different people. Don't measure people by the same dimensions. For some to reach success is to achieve this and for others to achieve success is to achieve that. I understand because -- my last 10 years and Chelsea's last 10 years -- I understand you put the level always high for myself and Chelsea.
"I really don't care about it. I just care about being myself, to work hard every day, be myself to have ambition to win always the next game -- it doesn't matter where and in which competition or which opponent. This is part of me. I don't need that from anybody to make me more motivated than I naturally am. I want to win against Burnley [on Monday], that's the first step. To win against Burnley will be very hard, I imagine."
Mourinho did not rule out further transfers but insisted he is satisfied with his squad.
"The market is open and experience says we never can say what will happen, never know if a player has a different reaction or opinion in this last part of the month, or if any club tries to do something with our players," he said. "The reality is I'm very happy with my squad and my club.
"The structure that supports me did fantastic work. I think I was good in the explanation of my needs. Because I was good in the explanation of my needs, the club was fantastic the way they were fighting to give me what I needed. My squad is very good, not perfect, but it's very good.
"We have finally also in the squad a significant number of young players who in the next couple of years will be considered home-grown, which is very important for Chelsea because in the last years it was only [John] Terry.
"The squad has experience, it has characters and personalities, it has people with ambition. We covered many positions. I'm very happy with the squad."
Mourinho hopes that another departure from last season is the number of disciplinary incidents he is involved in. The 2013-14 campaign saw the Chelsea boss sanctioned by the authorities on a number of occasions, most notably for entering the pitch in the 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa.
Asked whether he wanted to avoid being involved in as many run-ins this season, Mourinho laughed: "It's easier to say they had a run-in with me.
"You know me for a long time. You can analyse the way I am and approach things. You can see some differences from 10, nine, eight years ago -- they had a run-in with me not me with them. Ask them. Or the only thing I can say is I hope they don't have a run with me."