Jose Mourinho says Tottenham are “smelling the opportunity” to finish in the Champions League spots but feels there is big competition from at least five other teams for a fourth-place finish.
Tottenham face Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday, with Spurs four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea after a 2-0 victory over Manchester City in their last league outing before the winter break.
Speaking to BBC One’s Football Focus, Mourinho said: “First of all, I see much more clubs then people think.
“Sometimes it looks like, because Chelsea are the fourth and sometimes Tottenham is in fifth and Manchester United are the sixth, we are smelling the opportunity.”
Spurs are currently in sixth place in the table and can leapfrog Sheffield United into fifth with a win at Villa Park at the weekend.
“I think people forget there are big contenders,” the Spurs boss added. “Wolves, Sheffield United, Man United – even Arsenal – so it’s not just about what’s the distance between us and Chelsea.”
Tottenham appointed former Chelsea and Manchester United boss Mourinho as manager in November following the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino when they were 11 points adrift of the top four, with an inferior goal difference to then fourth-placed Manchester City.
Mourinho was speaking before City’s two-year ban from European competition, which has led to suggestions a top-five spot could now secure Champions League qualification.
“With that gap, it was going to very difficult,” Mourinho added. “This difference of points allows the others to be able to make mistakes and they still keep a good situation.
“In our case mistakes, especially from now, mistakes will keep us away from that. It’s a big gap but we are going to be there.”
‘FA Cup is open to dreams’
Tottenham are still in the hunt for a trophy this season after a dramatic FA Cup fourth-round replay win over Southampton.
Son Heung-min’s late penalty set up a fifth-round home tie against Norwich City on Wednesday, 4 March.
“I think a trophy is what every club wants,” Mourinho told Football Focus. “I think the FA Cup is a competition that is open to dreams.
“Even teams that are not in the top four, they can dream when they are in the draws because it’s a knockout.
“Again, with the draws, the top teams are all there – they never play against each other in a way, so it looks to me the top eight or the top four, in the final, the top teams will be there.”
Injuries to the likes of England captain Harry Kane have seen Tottenham’s squad stretched as the club also looks for success in the last 16 of the Champions League against German side RB Leipzig.
“It’s going to be difficult because we are in three competitions and we don’t have a squad for that because we have so many injuries,” stated Mourinho.
“Our squad doesn’t show the full potential that it has by losing players until the end of the season.
“The accumulation of matches, which I believe is going to pay a price but again, we make a big effort to be where we are and I think this means that we are ready for the fight.”
‘The barber was bad’
A big topic of conversation on social media this week was not related to matters on the pitch for Mourinho – but his new hairstyle.
The Portuguese boss explained his close crop wasn’t intentional.
“The reason behind the haircut is the barber was bad!” Mourinho joked.
“He did a bad job and when I looked at myself in the mirror, I looked at him and said ‘come on, bring out the one and shave it’.
“I know it will take a little longer but it will grow and come back to normality.”
Watch the full interview with the Spurs manager on Football Focus, Saturday 15 February at 12:00 on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.