Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mourinho talking up Liverpool's title credentials

Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes Liverpool possess 'everything they need' to claim the Barclays Premier League title this season.

Rafael Benitez's Reds sit second in league, level on points with leaders Manchester United but behind on goal difference having also played one game more.

While firmly in the title race, Liverpool have been guilty of squandering points at home to less-fancied opposition this season, but Mourinho, now the boss of Inter Milan, believes they can keep their championship challenge on track.

'It has been interesting watching Liverpool this season,' Mourinho wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

'I think they have everything they need to win the title.

'I still can't understand why they didn't do it in the last four years. Why wouldn't they be able to do it this season? Of course they can.

'The manager is good, the players are good, the crowd is unique, the tradition of the club is big, so why can't they do it? I think they can.'

Mourinho warned, however, that the resumption of the Champions League at the end of next month could again be a distraction for the Anfield club.

'Usually it is when the Champions League starts that they lose their focus on the Premiership,' he continued. 'It was like this in previous years when they did very well in the Champions League but they lost too many points in the championship.

'They have already lost 10 points at home by drawing the kind of matches they used to win. Against Stoke, Fulham, West Ham, Hull and Everton it has been two points lost. So if you can imagine that they had those 10 points now, they would be top of the league.'

The Portuguese also played down the recent spat between Benitez and United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

'As for these stories I read about Rafael Benitez and Alex Ferguson exchanging words, this is all part of the game,' he said.

'It is part of the fight you have to make to win a title, part of the pressure that managers try and put on other managers, clubs and structures to try to get an advantage.

'I think Benitez and Ferguson respect each other and both know they are contenders for the title. I don't think it is personal.'

Meanwhile, Mourinho hailed the decision of Kaka to snub the advances of Manchester City and remain in Serie A with AC Milan.

'I am happy that Kaka didn't go there,' he said. 'I want the best players to be in my league. I want my league to be as strong as possible and of course Kaka is absolutely top.

'It would have been very, very bad for Italian football if Kaka had left Serie A.

'When a player like him decides to join City it will be because they have proved there is a big project; because I don't think a player like Kaka is going to leave a club like Milan because of one euro more or one euro less.'

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