Jose refuses to rest on his laurels

JOSE MOURINHO has warned Chelsea's Premiership rivals he will not rest on his laurels for a moment after inspiring his champions' devastating statement of intent at Old Trafford.

Mourinho insists his record-breaking side are still yet to achieve true greatness despite stretching their lead over Manchester United to a massive 20 points on Tuesday night.

Reported multi-million pound interest in Parma's Alberto Gilardino and Mickael Essien of Lyon indicate the Chelsea chief's tireless desire to seal his side's place in the history books.

Mourinho admitted: "Next season if we want to be champions again we are going to have to be as good as we were this season.

"Next season there will still be Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and perhaps another team challenging us.

"I don't think we have to win next year to become a great side. But if we don't win it once or twice more during my five-year contract then you could say we are not great."

Mourinho already has his eyes on next season's battle - so much so that he views Sunday's Premiership finale against Newcastle as something of an unwelcome distraction.

"I wish the season could end now and my players could all go home," admitted Mourinho. "I would like to see the first training session on July 6 and decide what we need then."

Mourinho was keeping a close eye yesterday on captain John Terry, who was undergoing surgery on the foot injury which has hampered his progress over the last two months.

Frank Lampard and Ricardo Carvalho are also set to undergo post-season surgery but both will be available for Sunday's clash with Newcastle.

Having inspired his side to shatter the previous Premiership records for points and wins at the home of the previous holders - and in doing so extended his personal unbeaten streak over Alex Ferguson to six games - Mourinho might have felt entitled to a little of his trademark boasting this week.

But instead he is anxious to use his side's surge to prominence as an example that success in the Premiership can never be taken for granted.

Mourinho added: "I don't look at football in terms of managers. Porto and Chelsea got results against Manchester United, not Mourinho against Sir Alex.

"Football is about teams and in the last two seasons my teams did well against United, but in the future this could change.

"We beat Liverpool four times but lost against them in the fifth game which was most important. So maybe next season we cannot beat United. However this season we are the best team - no doubts."

French club Lyon claimed yesterday that Mourinho's team-strengthening exercise had already started with an unsuccessful bid for the French champions' star midfielder Essien.

Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed the bid but added: "Chelsea came up with an offer for Essien and left with nothing."

Meanwhile, Chelsea are refusing to comment on reports that they have been threatened with legal action over their alleged refusal to send a Nigerian player back to Norway.

Teenager Emmanuel Sarki is training with Mourinho's men despite still being contracted to Norwegian club Lyn Oslo.

And the Norwegians insist Chelsea have ignored repeated requests for Sarki to be sent back to them.

Lyn's director of football Morgan Andersen said: "Emmanuel Sarki is our player and we want him back. We've wanted him for a while now but Chelsea refuse to send him back.

"He should have been in Oslo in January. We've been communicating with Chelsea for several months and this is a situation we cannot accept. Our lawyer has sent a fax to Chelsea, asking them to send him back."

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