Jose Mourinho Says Winning Champions League Is Best Way To Qualify
Jose Mourinho says winning this season’s Champions League is Chelsea’s best way back into the tournament next term.
The Stamford Bridge side go into their final group game against Porto needing a point to progress to the knockout stages.
If Chelsea drop into third place behind the Portuguese club and Dynamo Kiev, they will have to compete in the Europa League – but winning that trophy will see Mourinho’s men qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The Blues’ chances of qualifying domestically are lessening as a result of their poor form and they currently sit 14th in England’s top flight – two points ahead of the relegation zone.
Mourinho, who has seen his team lose eight Premier League games in a difficult campaign so far, is intent on taking the harder path to continued participation.
The 52-year-old said: “I know that in this moment, it looks that to win the Europa League would be an easier way to be in the Champions League next season than to finish in the top four.
“But there is another possibility, which is to win the Champions League. Yes, it is harder than winning the Europa League, but this is the competition where we are.
“I was always against the teams that are knocked out of the Champions League going to the Europa League because I think there is such a difference in the level of competition.
“It is not fair for the teams that are in the Europa League to do the group phase then in February to get the teams that are knocked out of the Champions League.
“I think if you are knocked out of the Champions League, you should go home and focus on domestic competitions.
“We want to play Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern – we want to play all the big teams and for that we need to win.”
Mourinho – who insisted his team have not lacked on-pitch leadership this season – has thanked Sir Alex Ferguson for his support this week, saying his comments set him apart from his ‘fake friends’.
The former Manchester United manager backed his old rival, saying Chelsea would be disposing of one of the best coaches of all time if they sacked him.
Mourinho, who has so far staved off speculation surrounding his future, has not read Ferguson’s comments personally.
He has been told about them, though, and expressed his gratitude to the Scot, someone he has always held great admiration for.
Mourinho said: “I didn’t read but people told me what he said. That is the difference between my friends, fake friends and ones who are not even fake friends.
“Sir Alex is my friend. His words are very nice. All through his career he has always been honest in his analysis and I thank him.
“As a manager, this period makes me better because it’s the first time for me, a new experience.”