• Premier League

Mourinho dismisses Europa League for Chelsea

ESPN staff
July 17, 2013
Jose Mourinho insists the Champions League is the main European competition © AP

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has dismissed the notion of winning the Europa League as a "big disappointment" despite the Stamford Bridge outfit being the current champions of Europe's second-tier competition.

Mourinho's predecessor, Rafael Benitez, guided the Blues to the only silverware they won last season, a 2-1 victory over Benfica securing the Europa League title just over two months ago.

But after finishing third in the Premier League, Chelsea again claimed a spot in the Champions League, and Mourinho left little doubt about which tournament he felt held the greater importance.

"It would be a big disappointment for me," he told the BBC. "I don't want my players to feel the Europa League is our competition.

"[The Champions League] is the only European competition we have to play and that's the European competition we have to give our best."

However, Mourinho further added that Premier League glory should be the main focus of the squad, the 50-year-old hoping to add to the back-to-back crowns he claimed in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

"The most important thing in football is to be the best team in the season and try to win your domestic league," he said.

"In our case, it's the most important league in Europe, so we have to try and be the best team and win the Premier League."

Chelsea are currently in Thailand preparing for their pre-season clash with the Singha All Stars, with the London club keeping one eye on their opening game of next season's Premier League campaign against Hull City.

And Mourinho confided that every position in his starting XI for the upcoming season was up for grabs.

"I don't care about the passport, I don't care about the date of their birth, I just care about performance," he said.

"If they are better than the young guys, then they play. If the young guys are better than them, they don't play.

"But the way they are working is amazing. These guys, they know they have to give everything and don't expect that status chooses the line-up."

Meanwhile, Mourinho has praised Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich for his foresight to sign young players and nullify the ramifications of the incoming financial fair play rules.

Chelsea have signed, and then loaned to other clubs with great success, young players such as Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Tomas Kalas.

And Mourinho believes that policy has put the club in a great position to face future hurdles.

"With the current Chelsea squad, [Abramovich] was thinking ahead of the others," Mourinho said.

"When Chelsea were buying lots of young players, but the young players were not yet ready to come to play for Chelsea, I was in Italy.

"I was listening and reading some of the critics.

"You can see this season we have De Bruyne, Lukaku, Kalas. We've brought back three or four players with zero investment now because the investment was made before.

"If people want to follow financial fair play - and we will, I don't know if others are keen to do it but we will - he was thinking ahead."

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