Jose Mourinho: Last two Premier League title wins were not special ones

‘My Chelsea were phenomenal, City and United won through others’ mistakes’

Chief Football Correspondent

There is a tendency in Jose Mourinho to wrap up his most provocative statements with a compliment or a kind observation that confuses the target and then other times he just lobs them in like the proverbial grenade. It was to the latter category that yesterday’s performance belonged.

The last two titles, won by Manchester City last year and Manchester United in May? These were not, Mourinho said, the work of great teams. In fact, they were as much about the ineptitude of the competition. Back in 2004 when he started, things were much tougher. The Premier League was better then. The champions, he said, be it Chelsea, or United or Arsenal had to be “phenomenal”.

Yes, Mourinho’s back in town and the courtesies extended to his rivals over the summer are starting to be pushed to the back of the cupboard like an old suit. In their place are the blunt observations that Mourinho doubtless made in private as he watched English football from afar for almost six years, ruminating on his own legacy as a double title-winning Chelsea manager. He delivers them without apology.

“Do you think Manchester United won the Premier League last year because they were an unbelievable team?” he asked, rhetorically. “I don’t think so. The other contenders didn’t have a very good season. It was the same when City won the title. Were they an extraordinary team? I don’t think so. Others made so many mistakes that City eventually won the competition.

“In the previous few years you had a fantastic Arsenal, who were champions without a single defeat [2003-04]. You had a Chelsea with a points record in the Premier League [95 in 2004-05]. You had a United side who won the title [in 2007] after our double and had an unbelievable season. I think the champions, in other seasons, were magnificent. In the last two seasons, I’ve felt ‘no’. The champions were champions as a consequence of many things, not because they were phenomenal. The other big teams made too many mistakes. I know it’s difficult to win points in the Premier League but I felt that, for example, last year in the first period of the competition United won matches and the other teams were losing incredible points. Sometimes you win because you are tremendous. Other times you win because you are the best. But you can be the best without being tremendous.”

The best, the tremendous and plain old mediocre: Premier League football returns this lunchtime with Liverpool v Stoke City. David Moyes’ United are away at Swansea at 5.30pm. Chelsea wrap the weekend up at home to Hull City in tomorrow’s 4pm kick-off. The level of managerial change, and the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, make it feel like a new era and yesterday Mourinho was already serving up his version of history.

Control the narrative. Lead the agenda. That is the Mourinho way. Over the weekend, the likes of Arsène Wenger and possibly Moyes too will doubtless be asked about Mourinho’s take on the last two years and his point that this season there is no side that can “destroy the competition”.

Even when he was asked the inevitable question about the state of Chelsea’s pursuit of Wayne Rooney, Mourinho switched the line of inquiry from his club’s failure to land their priority target to a point about the managerial fraternity en masse.

“I’m just a Chelsea manager, and every one of us [managers] are looking always to try and strengthen our squad. We all say ‘no’ but we lie to the last day, when the market is open, because we’re all waiting for something to happen. Even if we say we’re very happy with our squad, we lie, because we always want to make it better. We’ll see what happens, not just with us but with Manchester United.”

You see what he did there? Skilfully transposing the doubts he has about his own squad, sans Rooney, on to the Premier League as a whole. There is a good chance he is right when one considers the lack of transfer activity at United and Arsenal – but City too?

The pressure is there in the bookmakers’ odds, which have Chelsea as favourites in spite of the absence so far of a marquee signing this summer, and Mourinho will know that it is he who is regarded as a key figure in that assessment. It is one of the reasons why he is presenting his current squad as a young bunch who must be schooled and refined, rather than a group of proven winners.

There is also the careful guarding of his own reputation. If the Chelsea that won two titles under Mourinho were admired, they were not regarded as entertainers in the way that the last title-winning Arsenal team were, or, more recently, the United side of Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. At the club’s Cobham training ground yesterday, Mourinho said icily that criticism of his style “came often”.

“The story is always the same,” he said. “Record number of points in the Premier League? My Chelsea. Record points in La Liga? My Real Madrid. Record of goals? My Real Madrid. Record of consecutive victories in the Premier League? I don’t know, but maybe it’s our record still. We don’t win by winning 1-0, by defending and not attacking. My teams are offensive teams. Sometimes they gamble more times than anyone else. Sometimes, when we’re not winning in the last 20 minutes, we give it a go. We are never a defensive team.”

Today, Mourinho will take his team to train at Stamford Bridge, especially for the benefit of the new arrivals like Marco van Ginkel, André Schürrle and Kevin De Bruyne who, the Chelsea manager said, have remarkably never been to the stadium and need to “work out where the dressing rooms are, where the tunnel is, about the pitch”.

Tomorrow, Mourinho will step on to the Stamford Bridge turf in front of a crowd for the first time since he returned with Internazionale in 2010. “My dugout, my stadium, my people,” he said yesterday. He said he would have to “control it a bit” when it came to his emotions in respect of the fans’ expected reaction. And then, as ever, it will be down to business.

Mourinho: Moses is off my radar

Jose Mourinho could not hide his frustration at Victor Moses’ late return from South Africa after playing an international friendly there for Nigeria on Wednesday.

“I don’t know where he is! I haven’t seen him,” the Chelsea manager said. “I saw him in the airport when we arrived from the United States. He went to South Africa and I don’t know where he is.” Shortly after saying this, Moses did turn up but perhaps not in time to appease Mourinho.

Sam Wallace

What will happen: Our writers' predictions

* Sam Wallace, Chief Football Correspondent

Champions Chelsea  Second Manchester United

Third Manchester City  Fourth Arsenal

Relegated Stoke, Hull City, Crystal Palace

* Glenn Moore, Football Editor

Champions Chelsea

Second Man City

Third Man United

Fourth Arsenal

Relegated Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Hull City

* Ian Herbert, Northern Football Correspondent

Champions Man Utd

Second Chelsea

Third Man City

Fourth Arsenal

Relegated Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Hull City

* Neil Warnock, columnist

Champions Chelsea

Second Man City

Third Man United

Fourth Arsenal

Relegated Crystal Palace, Hull, Stoke

* Jack Pitt-Brooke, football writer

Champions Chelsea

Second Man City

Third Man United

Fourth Tottenham

Relegated Sunderland, Hull City, Crystal Palace

* Tim Rich, football writer

Champions Chelsea

Second Man City

Third Man United

Fourth Arsenal

Relegated Fulham, Crystal Palace, Hull

* Steve Tongue, football writer

Champions Chelsea

Second Man City

Third Man United

Fourth Arsenal

Relegated Cardiff, Sunderland, Crystal Palace

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit