Football

Mourinho: Leicester can be champions

Jose Mourinho believes Chelsea can still make the top four but also says Leicester City can actually win the Premier League ahead of their key clash on Tuesday morning (Singapore time).

The defending champions travel to the King Power Stadium with Mourinho's side 14th in the table and Leicester sitting unexpectedly top.

That has been partly down to the big teams not performing to their usual level, and the Chelsea manager (right) also believes it can give his side a chance to get back into the Champions League chase.

"Before we lost the last three points against Bournemouth, I was convinced, absolutely convinced of the fourth position in the table. I was absolutely convinced of a great December for us," he said yesterday.

"But the reality is some clubs are doing so well and some other clubs are not capable of doing what people are used to.

"It's not easy for the top clubs any more to win three, four, five, 10 matches in a row. So who knows?"

Mourinho also thinks it is possible that Leicester can win the title.

"Well, first of all, they deserve to be where they are. I said a couple of weeks ago I don't believe they can be champions.

"Maybe I have to think twice before saying that again.

"One thing is to be top of the league in September after a beautiful start.

"Another thing is to be top of the league in December, that's a completely different story.

"It would be something magnificent, something to impress the football world, but sometimes these things can happen. Why not to happen with them?"

SUCCESSOR

Mourinho succeeded Ranieri in the Chelsea job back in 2004, and clashed with him when both managed in Italy between 2008 and 2010, but only had huge praise for the Italian ahead of their meeting - stating that the Leicester boss has been by far the best manager in the Premier League this season.

"He has just won manager of the month. I think he should win manager of the half-term," said the Portuguese.

"If you could give an award to the first six months of competition, everybody is miles away from him. And all other clubs are miles away from what Leicester are doing."

Mourinho also lamented the sacking of Garry Monk by Swansea City, and said he was hugely "unlucky" - but that does not mean the Portuguese has been lucky to keep his own job.

"I am always against the sack, I think the end of the season is the moment to change things when people analyse the work of the season and believe that the best time is to change.

"The clubs and the owners have the power, it is their decision.

SURPRISE

"I feel very sorry for him (Monk), I feel he did the work that impressed last season, he got the trees and was doing so well and showing some great qualities as a manager so it is a surprise."

Asked whether it meant he was lucky to stay at Chelsea, Mourinho merely said "no".

"I think my situation is the bad results are not normal, but the situation to keep the job and to have the chance to improve and to finish the work is to be normal," he said.

"What is not normal and not fair is what is happening almost every day." - AFP.

LEICESTERClaudio RanieriCHELSEA (EPL)Jose Mourinhoepl