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‘We won’t win EPL this year’

London: Jose Mourinho has given the clearest signal yet that Chelsea’s Premier League title bid would fail this season after claiming the champagne was on ice until 2015.

Mourinho marked his 51st birthday with a glass of bubbly, at his pre-match press conference, ahead of Wednesday night’s game with West Ham United but admitted he could not see himself doing the same come May 11.

The Chelsea manager has consistently played down his side’s chances of finishing above Manchester City and Arsenal but he virtually wrote them off on Tuesday when asked about their hopes. “I think you have to drink champagne because we are improving,” he said.

“We are improving a lot, the team, the players. So the perspective of champagne in the future is good. We are going in a good direction. But this season? I don’t think so.”

He said: “Our main objective this season is to build a team. The best way to build a team is to be competing for things. When you play Europa League, no evolution. When you play in the Premier League 20 points behind the leader, no evolution.

“Evolution comes at the same time you build a team and have serious competition.”

He added: “I think, next season, we’re going to have a very strong team, starting from day one with everybody.”