• No trophy would be 'unacceptable' for Chelsea manager
• David Luiz to start against Crystal Palace on Saturday
José Mourinho has raised the prospect of Chelsea finishing the season without a trophy, describing it as "possible" given the intensity of the competition, as he continues to manage the levels of expectation. But the manager admitted that such a scenario would be considered as unacceptable by himself and everyone at the club.
Mourinho has always won something over the course of a full season in managerial charge, if the Spanish Super Cup that he claimed with Real Madrid last season is included, and, to him, it most assuredly should be. His record has been phenomenal since 2002-03 – his first full season at Porto – but he has suggested that his first campaign back at Chelsea may be among the toughest.
"I think it's possible to happen," Mourinho replied, when asked about finishing empty-handed. "We are competing against very important teams. You go to the Champions League and you see what is there and in the three domestic competitions, there are six contenders, or four in the Capital One Cup because others [Arsenal and Liverpool] are out.
"We are in a transitional period but [given] my personal approach, my personal philosophy of life, the nature of the club, the nature we want everybody here to have ... it's not acceptable [to win nothing]. We want to think that is not acceptable. We have to work hard to try for that not to happen."
Mourinho is battling problems at both ends of the pitch, with his defence conceding uncharacteristically sloppy goals and his strikers labouring for cutting edge. He said that Gary Cahill would not play against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as the centre-half risked aggravating a thigh complaint, and so David Luiz will continue alongside the captain, John Terry.
David Luiz returned to the team last Wednesday against Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League after five and a half weeks out with a knee problem. "It was the performance of a player that's been out for a long time," Mourinho said, of the Brazilian. "Not perfect but good. As a start, he was fine."
Ashley Cole will return to the substitutes' bench, having started against Steaua, with Mourinho set to recall César Azpilicueta at left-back. He said that Cole would come back in again for Tuesday night's Capital One Cup quarter-final at Sunderland. Mourinho intends to rotate in other areas over the busy Christmas and New Year period.
The Portuguese stressed that this Chelsea squad was in transition, with two groups of players: the younger ones who need time and the older guard who can no longer perform at the highest level for every minute of every match. He noted that a manager's second season at a club is normally better than the first.
"The last manager, [Rafael] Benítez – and this is not a criticism – knew that he was not going to be the manager for the next year," Mourinho said. "He was chasing results and he was not worried about building up a team with a certain style. He knew that he would not be here and went for results, so we didn't have a real base to start with. For many reasons, we knew it needed time and patience."
The Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, is not renowned for patience or his tolerance of managers who do not win trophies The club, who have advanced to the Champions League last 16, are five points behind the Premier League leaders, Arsenal. "Five points is not a drama," Mourinho said. "But eight, nine, 10 and the situation is more complicated."