Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City can win the title and admits every club is “miles away from what they are doing”.
Leicester host Mourinho’s men on Monday with the Foxes two points clear at the summit while defending champions Chelsea are down in 14th, 17 points adrift.
Although he conceded his side are currently underperforming, Mourinho preferred to focus on the achievement of Leicester and their manager, former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri.
“They deserve to be where they are, let’s be honest,” Mourinho told his pre-match media conference on Friday.
“I said a couple of weeks ago I didn’t believe they could be champions, maybe I have to think twice before I say that. To be top after a good start is one thing, to be there in December is a different story.
“They can win the title. It would be something magnificent, it would be something to impress the football world, but these things can happen.”
Ranieri was named Premier League Manager of the Month on Friday but Mourinho thinks the Italian’s work should be recognised over a longer period, adding: “I think he should win the manager of the half-term, if you could give an award for the first six months of competition.
“Everybody is miles away from him. Every club is miles away from what Leicester are doing. They are the ones that deserve all this respect and all these compliments.”
Chelsea qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League on Wednesday courtesy of a 2-0 win over Mourinho’s former club Porto but their last domestic outing, against AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge, ended in a surprise 1-0 defeat.
“I have to say, the last defeat was something that was far away from what I believed [could happen],” continued Mourinho.
“Before we lost the last three points against Bournemouth, I was convinced of a great December for us, to go for fourth.”