Jose Mourinho says Red Devils can still win the Premier League.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says it is too early to rule Manchester United out of the Premier League title race despite David Moyes’ side trailing front-runners Arsenal by 12 points.
The Blues lie in second place, four points adrift of their London rivals, and Mourinho warned earlier this week that no contender could afford to fall 12 or 13 points adrift.
But the Portuguese refused to rule out the reigning champions, despite their shock home loss to Moyes’ former club Everton on Wednesday.
“If it was another club I’d say it was impossible, but not with United,” Mourinho said ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Stoke on Saturday.
“The potential of the team, what the club represents, the culture of the club — it’s not a club in panic, a club where you feel the end of the world is arriving.
“They are calm. They go the same way. They support the manager.”
Speculation is mounting over Moyes’ future but Mourinho thinks that the Scot will be given time to turn things around at Old Trafford, having succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer.
“Nobody touches the manager,” he said. “They have a project. If they don’t win this season, they think they’ll win next season. It’s a stable situation, an example for others.
“For that, they are still contenders. They will fight and try and get 12 to 15 points in a row, waiting for matches between (Manchester) City and Arsenal, Arsenal and Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, where others will lose points. Yes, they are still contenders.”
And he added: “I think everybody is capable of winning it. We want to be there, we want to be close, we want to fight to the last moment, we want to improve, we want to win the next match.
“Hopefully, by the end of the season, instead of being 25 points off the leader or 14 points like it happened in the last two seasons, hopefully we are there, whether we’re champions or not.
“Arsenal lead because they have more points, they’ve been better and have made less mistakes. They deserve to be there. But the championship doesn’t finish at the end of the year. It finishes by the end of May.”
Mourinho’s side will attempt to follow up their 4-3 win at Sunderland on Wednesday with a second away victory at the Britannia.
The former Real Madrid head-coach believes that his side will face a different type of challenge against Stoke than in recent years, following Mark Hughes’s arrival as manager to succeed Tony Pulis.
Pulis’ sides were renowned for their direct and intensely physical approach, which was largely successful, but Mourinho believes the change has come at the right time for the Potters.
“I think sometimes, at a certain moment, clubs also have to care about a style of play,” he said.
“They also have to care about the way you sell your product. I think they did well to change a philosophy that was giving points, but was not giving a future.
“I think they did well. They’re a little different now. Not so much. They play better football, but they keep many things from the past. I don’t think they are too different. It will be difficult, that’s for sure.”