Despite being a manager whose team has won six games on the spin, there is one aspect of his job Jose Mourinho is not currently enjoying.
That is team selection, the Portuguese revealed as he spoke to the media in his conference on Friday ahead of the trip up to Newcastle. However, it is for all the right reasons that writing down 11 names on the team sheet is causing him discomfort he went on to explain.
Once again there is a large pool of players to choose from as the team returns to league action following the midweek cup win over Arsenal. Only Marco van Ginkel, who is out long-term as he recovers from knee surgery, is unavailable.
‘It is a bad feeling because it is not easy for me to leave some players at home and it is not easy for me to leave some players on the bench, because everyone deserves to play,’ Mourinho said.
‘To have all the choices is a good problem, and to have all the players playing well and very much committed and with the group is fantastic, but to be the man responsible for saying you don’t play or you are on the bench, is at this moment very hard because I feel I am unfair to all of the ones I am not selecting.
‘They are doing everything to play,’ he emphasised. ‘When they are on the bench and they come on they make an impact, When they have the chance to start they do well. I changed the team and they played a magnificent match at the Emirates, so at this moment it is a difficult feeling for me because I am unfair with some of them.’
Fernando Torres is one of the players who did not play a part at Arsenal, remaining on the bench as Mourinho used the full extent of his squad, and given the striker’s form last month there is a good chance he will be involved at St James’ Park tomorrow. Mourinho was asked once again how he has improved the player.
‘I repeat I did nothing. I did what I always do in trying to get the best out of the players, but in a very normal way. Fernando is responsible for his self-motivation and his commitment and the way he is working every day.
‘I don’t want Fernando to be influenced by these wins. I want him to be stable and not worried about proving himself or worried about scoring or not scoring. Against Newcastle he just needs to work for the team.’
Mourinho translated from a Portuguese expression to make his point.
‘A big team is a state of soul, and a collective soul, and at this moment all my players have this. It doesn’t matter to the soul if you score or don’t score, if you play well or don’t play well. It is a good squad and good people, and we try our best every match.’
If Chelsea win against Newcastle we will move to the top of the table ahead of Arsenal’s evening home game against Liverpool.
‘What is important is to go in the right direction, and that is to play the way we are playing,’ said Mourinho, considering that possibility.
‘We feel we are improving and the quality of our games is good. We won every match in October and we had to play Schalke and Arsenal away and Man City at home, so it was not an easy month.
‘But being top or not at this stage is a question of one, two or three points so it is not very important. Of course it is better to be first than be fifth. Now we go to Newcastle which is one of the most difficult games in the whole season. It is very difficult to play at St James’ Park but we are going to try.’
There was one subject raised in the conference away from Saturday’s game and the first team squad. That was Bertrand Traore, the 18-year-old midfielder who was previously a trialist. It was announced yesterday the club has an agreement to sign the player.
‘Traore is a great talent that the club followed for a long time before me,’ noted Mourinho.
‘I wanted to take him to pre-season to have a view of him for two or three weeks and play him in front of 60,000 to 80,000 crowds like we have in Asia.
‘Now we could get him. We have to wait for other things, a work permit is coming in January, but we have a kid who in our opinion is one of the best talents of his age.
‘He made an impact in pre-season against nice opposition, and he played for his country since 16 and African national teams are good teams, especially Burkina Faso who have some talented players. So it looks like mentally he is very stable and he comes from a family of footballers so it is his natural habitat. I think he is ready to make an impact.’