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Jul 29, 2007

Chelsea are still the best, says Mourinho

Last season Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho won two trophies but was still criticised for not retaining the Premier League title or winning the Champions League.

The Portuguese coach took time out from his preparations for the new campaign to talk to ESPNsoccernet Press Pass interviewer, and former Chelsea centre-back, Frank Leboeuf about his plans for the imminent season.

• Leboeuf: Last season, you did good to win two trophies [FA Cup and League Cup] But is a disappointment to not have done something in the Champions League and the Championship?

• Jose Mourinho: Yes, we can say yes. We had a big team with big players, in the two previous years we were champions, you always want evolution and you want more, but the reality was that we had problems, we had many problems. Too much problems, too much important injuries, you know well that Michael Essien is a crucial player for us in midfield, he played half of the season at centre back.

Jon [Terry] is a great captain for us, half of the season he was out. Robben and Joe Cole, they are creative players, half of the season, without them, so in the team and in the season we rely on three or four players; Drogba, Lampard, Carvalho because they were there all season. But the other players, one is in, one is out, one has a problem, so the season was difficult to have an evolution in the team. It was just about getting a result to survive.

Get a result to progress in Champions League, get a result to progress in the Cup, get a result for not to open the gap to Man United. It was not about making the team better, was just about survive, so at the end of the day, we won the two trophies, the Cup was the first in Wembley, so it means a lot. Chelsea won the last in Old Wembley and wins the first in the new Wembley, means a lot.

The Champions League semi-finals, lose on penalties, is a bad, is a bad feeling so the season was not so bad and I think we can build on that disappointment to create a situation of more motivation for this season.

I talked to John Terry and asked him about his goals for next season. I asked him about the Championship, and the Champions League, it was more going towards the Championship.
Yes.

Because he's English maybe, it means a lot to him.
Yes, it's their mentality.

Yeah, and for you? Do you have a choice? I know you want to win everything but...
You know, you want to win everything but we all know in modern football it is difficult to win everything. So for example last season, we and Man United, we were in the four in the last months of the competitions and in the end Man United wins only the Championship and we win only the two cups, so is very difficult in modern football to do it.

But at the same time we have the squad, Man United has the squad, Liverpool has the squad so you never know what can happen. I cannot choose between one and another one. I won the Champions League before, and I know that sometimes details make the difference, you know the year I won we score a goal in Old Trafford in the last minute of extra time.

So it's about luck or so...
If you don't score, you are out. Last season we lose on penalties. And Robben is a fantastic penalty taker, misses a crucial penalty, the first penalty, so I think Champions League is a little bit about details, and Championship is about the best team.

Consistency?
During 12, not 12 but during 10 months, consistency to win the competition.

By consistency, you didn't change the team a lot, so maybe you didn't buy lots of players. So maybe Manchester or Liverpool will stop complaining about Chelsea spending too much money.
Yes, yes.

But why that consistency, do you think have the best team?
The consistency is an answer to what I was saying to you before. We had problems last season, and I believe without problems, we are the best team with best conditions so what I hope for this season is that stability, without so many injuries and I don't believe is possible because all the injuries were traumatic injuries. We didn't have the tear, the little problem - we had all this problem surgery.

Yeah, like Petr Cech.
Everybody surgery, so eight surgeries in a season is something difficult so I believe in the same squad

Malouda is a great player and brings a lot to the team. Pizarro is a striker that we don't have. He's different than Didier, he's different than Sheva, I think adapted to English football - in my opinion Pizarro can play in English football well. So it give us something more. Ben Haim, I'm not saying he's a super player because we have Carvalho and Terry, but to give us the protection we need in the back, as a third man, I think he's also fine, so I think we have a good squad.

Find out what tactics Jose Mourinho is planning for the new season and how he plans to keep his players happy in Part II of this interview on ESPNsoccernet Press Pass on Monday.