Mourinho taunts United as 'first of the also-rans'

After beating Bolton Wanderers 2-0 on Saturday to take a nine-point lead, Chelsea will be champions if they beat Everton at home today and United fail to win at White Hart Lane in a 12.45pm kick-off against Tottenham Hotspur. Even if United also take three points, Chelsea need only one from their last three matches to take the title.

Mourinho said that, although his record "cannot be compared" to Ferguson's eight Premiership titles, there was no way he would be able to stay in his job if he was to go three years without winning a League title. Finishing behind Chelsea next month will be the third straight campaign that Ferguson has not won the Premiership.

Mourinho said: "When you're at a club like Porto, Chelsea, Milan or Bayern Munich, if you are first you are the champion, if you are second you are the champion of the others. You are the first of the last. The only thing to be is the champion, the rest is not good enough. If I'm not champion it's not good enough."

On the prospect of going three years without a title, he said: "Not at the same club. With the same players at the same club, three consecutive years, I would feel what I have to give is not enough. With my personality I think I couldn't. First of all I want to win it. If I win it, it will be the second title in England and my fourth consecutive in two different countries.

"It's a great situation for me but I must be ready also for the other side of the coin, because one day I will lose a championship. But if we win the second Premiership you can say, 'Yes, only you and Sir Alex did it'. He has so much silverware you cannot compare."

With the FA Cup semi-final to come, against Liverpool on Saturday, Mourinho may even rest some of his players for today's visit from Everton. The Chelsea manager said that he expected a greater challenge from his closest rivals next year, citing Arsenal's failure to challenge for the title as the "negative surprise" of the season.

"It's not a League that is won in January or February - it's very close," he said. "I think the negative surprise of this League is the distance that Arsenal are behind. Normally Arsenal should be in the same pocket as we are.

"In terms of the Premiership this is a negative surprise, in spite of them doing fantastic in the Champions' League. Last season Liverpool was the negative surprise; imagine next season nobody is a negative surprise."

Mourinho has also told German newspapers that he expects a decision soon from Michael Ballack on his future. "He needs to make a decision before the start of the World Cup finals," Mourinho said.

The Germany captain will leave Bayern Munich this summer on a free transfer, with Chelsea leading the race to sign him.

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