Mourinho issues title challenges

Frank Dalleres
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CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho says his team have matured from last season’s “little horse” and are ready to mount serious challenges for the Premier League and Champions League.

Mourinho memorably used the equine analogy last term to depict the Blues as outsiders in the hunt for silverware, saying in February that they still “need milk and to learn how to jump”. Now fortified with the signings of Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa and former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, and a year more experienced, Mourinho believes Chelsea are rightfully fancied.

“This season we think we are going to be stronger, the younger players are more experienced, they are stable and better adapted to fighting for titles,” he said.

“We respect our opponents and their ambitions, because they have the same ambitions as us, but we want to win the Premier League and we are ready for that.”

Chelsea play the first game of their pre-season training trip to Austria this evening against top-flight side WAC RZ Pellets. They have five more friendlies, against the likes of Werder Bremen and Real Sociedad, before the Premier League starts on 16 August.

Young Croatian midfielder Mario Pasalic, who only joined the Blues this summer, has been sent on a season’s loan to Spanish club Elche.