City could face the threat of expulsion from next season’s Champions League or a transfer embargo after Uefa suggested accusations of Financial Fair Play deceptions by the Premier League champions constituted a “concrete case”. City have denied the claims.
Pep Guardiola, the City manager, said he was confident the club would not be banned from the competition after conversations with his chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, and chief executive, Ferran Soriano.
But Mourinho believes it could require sanctions against City, coupled with a dramatic improvement from United, for his side to win the title in the foreseeable future. It is unclear how the English authorities would respond if Uefa came down heavily on City, but United already trail the leaders by 18 points after just 15 matches.
Last season, United – who have not come close to lifting the title since winning it in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final campaign, 2012-13 – finished second but still a staggering 19 points behind Guardiola’s champions.
Asked how long he believed it would be before United won the title again, Mourinho said: “I don’t know. It depends on our evolution but also others’ evolution. If the ones above us keep going in the same direction, and if their ambition and investment is continuous, that’s one thing. Another thing is if they stop, or if the Financial Fair Play makes them stop, and then we can close the gap a little bit better.”
On the likelihood of Uefa punishing City, Mourinho added: “The world is full of suggestions and I never know if they are true or not true, and that’s not my job to analyse that.”
Mourinho also sidestepped a question about whether he could see United facing as long a wait as Liverpool for their next championship.
Liverpool won their 10th title in 15 seasons in 1989-90 but have not been crowned champions since, a run totalling 28 years.
“I don’t know what happened in Liverpool. I just know the numbers but I don’t know why,” Mourinho said.
Guardiola said on Friday that he did not believe City would be barred from the Champions League over allegations they artificially inflated and backdated sponsorship deals to circumvent Uefa’s FFP rules.
“We will not be banned, no,” the City manager said. “That’s what I think because I trust in my chairman, with my CEO, what they have explained to me. I trust in them. If it happens, because Uefa decide that, we will accept it and move forward.”