Mourinho says Chelsea won “a competition we didn’t want to play in”.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has aimed a sly dig at his predecessor and long-time rival Rafael Benitez for the club’s Europa League triumph under his management last season, Sky Sports reports.
Having won the Champions League in 2012, Chelsea were then surprisingly to become the first holders to be knocked out of the tournament at the group stage the following season, as they finished third in a difficult group also containing Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk.
This saw the Blues enter the Europa League, and though the competition is not always highly regarded by neutrals, the club were pleased to secure some silverware at the end of the season with their 2-1 win over Benfica in the final.
Still, when asked about his Champions League ambitions for Chelsea this season, Mourinho played down the victory, saying it was a competition the club never wanted to be in in the first place.
“We made history by winning it two seasons ago,” he said. “Last year we made history by being the only champions eliminated from the group stage after six matches, and we ended up in a competition we didn’t want to play in.”
The Portuguese coach added that he is not obsessed with results at the moment, as he feels his priority is to build a team and develop an identity and style of play at the club first and foremost.
“We have to build a team full of talented players without the experience and the football philosophy born of having worked together for a long time,” he explained.
“The process has to end with a team, a philosophy, an identity, a style of play.
“If we win a match but not in the style we’re trying to build, it’s three points, one step up the table but one step back in the direction of our work.
“If we’d gone to Everton (on Saturday), had a very bad match and, in the last minute, Leighton Baines had scored an own goal and we’d won 1-0, would we be happy? In normal circumstances, yes, but when you’re trying to build something different? No.”