Jose Mourinho says finishing in the top four with Tottenham would be his greatest achievement given he thinks their injury crisis is the worst in Europe.
The Portuguese previously claimed that finishing second in the Premier League with Manchester United in 2017/18 was his best feat, but that would change if he can deliver Champions League football to Spurs next season.
He is being forced to play the remaining quarter of the season without a recognised striker as Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, who has undergone successful surgery on a broken arm, are injured.
That duo have scored half of Spurs’ goals this season and it leaves Mourinho putting square pegs in round holes – something he will have to do again on his return to Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime in a crucial battle for the top four.
“In these circumstances, yes,” Mourinho said when asked whether finishing top-four would out-rank his second-placed with United.
“We have to face that, again I repeat the boys did fantastic to put themselves back in the positions where we belong, these positions fighting for the top four.
“The situation is difficult. I think nobody else in the Premier League for sure, but even in European football is in such a difficult situation as we are in terms of injuries in specific positions.
“Sonny and Harry, they score the majority of goals that Tottenham score.
“This season was so negatively special that we’ll be without them both at the same time for a lot of matches.
🔹 @MoussaSissoko (knee) – commenced on-field rehabilitation.
“So yes, not for me, my achievement, but collectively for this group of boys if we manage to finish fourth without Harry and Sonny it would be something incredible, incredible achievement for the boys.
“So we have to give everything we have.”
There is some better injury news for Spurs as midfielder Moussa Sissoko is back training on grass following a knee operation.
Mourinho expects him to be back for the end of March.
“I think Moussa will give us some matches this season,” the boss said. “He went outside, started a little bit.
“Next week we’ll have a different phase of his recovery. In an optimistic but realistic situation, I’d expect Moussa to play a few weeks of football with us.
“It could be like six weeks of football with us. The whole of April and half of May. In normal conditions, we’re going to have him back by end of March or beginning of April.”
Mourinho makes his first return to Stamford Bridge as Spurs manager on Saturday and he said he is expecting “the usual” reaction.
Some love for the Portuguese from the Chelsea fans has appeared to wane, though Mourinho is hardly chomping at the bit to go back himself.
Asked whether returning to the club where he won three Premier League titles, he said: “No, not special, one more game.
“Because I’m a professional, as I’ve said every time I played my previous clubs, I’ll belong 200 per cent to my club. That’s it.
“The only different thing will be at the end of the game I can walk from the stadium to my house but even that I won’t take an advantage of because I’ll go back from the stadium with my players.”