Jose Mourinho has claimed Chelsea’s lack of European football has worked to their advantage this season but insisted he was not trying to deflect credit away from Antonio Conte.
Mourinho’s Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge on Monday for an FA Cup quarter-final clash against his former club but he says that the game held no special significance for him.
Conte has cleared up a mess left by Mourinho in the aftermath of a disastrous title defence last season, restoring the Blues to the top of the league.
But Mourinho – whose United side are still competing in the Europa League as well as the Premier League and the FA Cup – said the Blues’ schedule was working in their favour.
“The most difficult thing to have is the time to work [on the training pitch] and they have time to work,” Mourinho said.
“I know that he [Conte] said a couple of weeks ago that it’s not his fault that they are not in the European competitions – it’s my fault and the players’ fault.
“But the reality is that he got a situation in his hands where they have time to work, time to rest, time to relax, time to disconnect, time to travel, time to have holidays, time to go and enjoy America for a couple of days, they have time for all of these things, so they are in a position of privilege, the same privilege that Liverpool had a couple of years ago when they almost won the Premier League.
“But I don’t want to say that they don’t deserve credit for it. I know what I did at Chelsea but I am the kind of guy that when I move I have no regrets and I am not looking for bad feelings at all.”
United’s trip to Chelsea falls between the two legs of their Europa League last-16 clash with FC Rostov, and Mourinho said that English football’s oldest competition was not his main priority.
He said: “It’s just another game for me. Am I sadder to lose against Chelsea than against another team? No. Am I happier to win against Chelsea than another team? No.
“So for me it’s just a game that comes in the wrong moment for us, because the Europa League is a competition that can give us a Champions League spot, and the FA Cup does not. So the Europa League is more important than the FA Cup for us.”
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