Jose Mourinho feels Manchester United’s Europa League participation puts them in the “worst possible situation” to challenge for the Premier League title.
The Old Trafford side had to settle for fifth spot in the table last term as they narrowly missed out on Champions League football and will now be playing on Thursdays instead in the Europa League.
Mourinho is concerned that their lack of rest between games could have a negative impact and believes Chelsea – who do not play in Europe at all – have a major advantage in the title race.
“The Premier League doesn’t do you any favours. We will be playing [in the Europa League] on Thursday, but I don’t think they will then make us play on a Monday, they will make us play on Sunday and probably at 12 o’clock,” Mourinho told The Sun.
“So we are in the worst possible situation. It is the worst [if you want to fight] for the Premier League.
“It is much easier to be a Champions League team. And obviously it is much easier to be what Liverpool were two years ago and what Chelsea are next season [with no European football].
“One complete week to work every week, that is a dream. That is a dream for a manager who wants to improve his team. “
Nevertheless, Mourinho is determined to fight for the title in his first season in charge, even if the board of directors have given him three seasons to get United back to the top.
“The message from the owners and Mr Woodward was this, ‘Get your three years, do your work, improve the team and bring us back where we belong during a three-year period.’ My message was that I wanted to win the title in the first season,” he added.
“I want to be champion. To say before the season starts that the top four is the target? The top four is not the target. We want to play to be champions.
“If during the season we realise the points difference doesn’t allow us to fight for the title, we are going to establish a new target and when you can’t be champion the next target is to finish top four.”