16 September 2014 19:38
Jose Mourinho claims that dropping into the UEFA Europa League would be damaging to the development of his Chelsea side.
The Premier League club launch their Champions League campaign on Wednesday with the visit of Schalke, and Mourinho – a two-time winner of Europe’s premier club competition – is determined to qualify from the group stage.
Chelsea won the Europa League under the guidance of Rafael Benitez, a feat that still did little to endear him to a hostile fanbase, but Mourinho – who succeeded Benitez at Stamford Bridge – has no interest in mirroring that feat.
“At the moment I only think about not playing Europa League,” said Mourinho, whose side were beaten by Atletico Madrid in the semi-final of last season’s Champions League.
“I want my club to succeed in the group phase. It would be very bad for the evolution of my team and for the evolution of the young players to go to the Europa League.
“Also for the club and its prestige, Europa League is not Chelsea. At the moment we have a group, a championship of six matches and three opponents.
“We have to qualify, we have to do everything to qualify.”
Mourinho won the Champions League with Porto – where he also won the forerunner to the Europa League, the UEFA Cup – and with Inter Milan.
His current side sit top of the Premier League with a 100 per cent record after four games.