I want a small squad, says Mourinho

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho today looked forward to a "fantastic challenge" after being unveiled as Chelsea's new manager on a three-year contract, then signalled a shake-up by saying "I want a small squad".

Jose Mourinho today looked forward to a "fantastic challenge" after being unveiled as Chelsea's new manager on a three-year contract, then signalled a shake-up by saying "I want a small squad".

The 41-year-old former Porto coach has replaced Claudio Ranieri who parted company with the Blues on Monday.

Mourinho was released by Porto yesterday, less than a week after leading the Portuguese champions to victory in the Champions League final against Monaco.

In the immediate aftermath of that 3-0 win, Mourinho revealed he had completed his mission with the club, paving the way for a switch to west London.

And he said today: "Chelsea represent a fantastic challenge for me. It is a great club with a world-class squad of players.

"The plans and ambitions for Chelsea excite me and I am sure they will do the same for the fans whose incredible support I have already witnessed.

"The English Premiership is recognised as the best league in the world and I am really excited at the prospect of competing week in, week out at the highest level in England as well as in Europe."

In Mourinho's first full season in charge at Porto in 2002/03, he won the treble of domestic league and cup, and UEFA Cup before claiming Europe's top prize last week.

It is this pedigree which made him the preferred choice of Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, who will demand Mourinho - who has been officially named as manager and first-team coach at the London club - brings similar success to Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho said: "I think Chelsea are the perfect club. Many people thought my decision was made a long time ago. Not true. What was clear was that English football and Chelsea were favourites for me but the first real contact was over the weekend."

Asked if he would be bringing his Porto backroom staff with him, Mourinho said: "My staff grew up with me, we won step by step together so I have people in whom I have confidence.

"At the same time I must meet people who are in the club now. I have to meet them, to communicate, to know their desire. I cannot say who and how many are coming with me."

Mourinho made it clear he wanted to work with a small squad but would not reveal if any of the players at Porto would follow him to Stamford Bridge.

He said: "In relation to players I would say if all the names you wrote in last few days are correct we would have a 50 player squad and I hate to work with big squads.

"I want a small squad - 21 players plus the goalkeepers and no more.

"It is a correct number for the specific work we want to do. I want to look to the reserve and youth team with different eyes.

"In relation to the Porto players. I love them all as we won together and made history together and I wish the best for all of them. I will not give a sheet of players of who I want. I must give a document with reasons why I want this and that.

"We have to spend time so we know what we really want and what we really need."

And he made it clear he wanted immediate success.

He added: "I think (next season's) Champions League will be the strongest ever - every shark is there - the competition will be very hard. Other teams think like we think in Europe and in English football - they share our ambition - but I don't want self protection from them.

"The biggest ambition I have is to win the first Premiership match on August 14. My second ambition is to win the next match and we will keep going like this.

"We have top players and, sorry if I'm arrogant, we have a top manager."

Mourinho also took a swipe at Ranieri who had suggested he might struggle in the Premiership because standards in Portugal are not as high as in England.

"I heard that and what I suggest is that of you should explain that for a team to win the UEFA Cup and Champions League you have to play many times against teams from different countries. I did not win the cup playing against 20 Portuguese teams."

The former Porto manager insists team spirit comes ahead of superstar players.

"I am a great defender of team spirit and teamwork. The first thing I have to promise to my players is that I will look at them with the same eyes.... I do not want special relations with one of them.

"I hate to speak about players individually. Players do not win trophies, squads win trophies.

"I cannot say I love this player, I love players who love to win. They not only win in 90 minutes, but every day, every training session, in every moment of their lives."

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