As he works in pre-season on moulding the players into an effective team, Jose Mourinho has explained his attitude towards and requirements from the imaginative and skilful attacking players in the squad.
With the manager returning to the club after six years away, it is understandable if the players involved in both eras are considered, and that is the case when Mourinho explains coaching and deploying the type of footballer who, with one dart, one trick, one inspired pass or shot can turn a worrying outcome to a game into a bright and productive one.
Joe Cole was one of the footballers from Mourinho’s first spell in London SW6 and some would say he played the best football of his career in those years. Certainly the player has spoken highly in the media about his former boss.
‘Joe Cole was very enjoyable because he was the kind of player who everybody was saying was one of the best talents in the Premier League and in English football,’ Mourinho recalls.
‘But I made his life quite difficult because we transformed him together. He also accepted it and we transformed what people used to call the no.10 who is so talented he makes two or three fantastic actions and people are amazed, into a kind of inside winger, moving right and left, strong defensively.
‘He was fantastic and I was so pleased with what we did with him.
‘I am not the kind of guy that makes life easy for the great players,’ he explains. ‘If they are great they have to give more than the others, if they are great they cannot be happy with a few great things that they do.’
Moving on to the present day, Mourinho speaks about two players it is hard to argue weren’t the most influential going forward last season – Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.
‘Hazard has a lot of talent, as everybody knows, and now he has to move from great talent to great numbers because football is about numbers. He has to transform his great talent into many goals, many assists, many winning goals, many goals in big matches. I am ready to help him, and he must be ready too.’
On the subject of Mata, Mourinho is fully appreciative of the influence the 25-year-old has had since joining two years ago.
‘At Chelsea we have two Player of the Year awards – the fans’ and the Players’ Player of the Year, and the Players’ Player of the Year was my invention,’ he points out.
‘The fans have one perspective and the players they have another – and in my time I was trying to make Claude Makelele the Player of the Year,’ he laughs.
‘Last season Mata won it from the fans and from his colleagues and that means a lot, so of course he fits in my plans.’
The manager knows Mata’s game well and has earmarked him for important roles in a balanced side.
‘I have my idea about where and how he produces better and where he has more difficulty, but we are here to try to keep him performing when he is performing and to try to help him perform better in the situations where he has it more difficult.
‘I like very much a right-sided player to be left-footed. I started with Robben and Duff and I kept that going at Inter with Pandev, and at Real Madrid with De Maria and Ozil.
‘Here on tour in Asia I did it with the kid Bertrand Traore, and now everybody that can use the left winger on the right, and the opposite, does so.
‘I like the wingers to come inside and on the left we have a lot – Hazard, Moses, De Bruyne. Juan is the only player we have to do that on the right but I also think he is very comfortable playing no.10, so between these two positions he has a lot to give to the team.
‘I always say to these creative players that if you have more than the others, you have to do more than the others,’ Mourinho says by way of a general conclusion.
‘If you have this ability, you have to use this ability. If you do it with one objective, to score goals or to create goals, do it. If you lose the ball then no problem, because you had a good objective in your mind – you wanted to score goals or you wanted to produce goals.
‘When you do it for fun, when you do it in midfield and you lose the ball and after that you don’t defend, and the team concede a goal, then that is a problem.
‘But these players they make the difference, I never tell them you cannot do this and you cannot do that. You can do anything because you have more talent so go to score goals and go to produce.
‘With me they will always feel that confidence to go at players, try to dribble past one or two players and go in the direction of the area. They will have this freedom. We had Joe Cole, we had Robben, we had Duff.
‘At Real Madrid I had Cristiano Ronaldo, De Maria, Ozil. I always tell my players if you are different you are different, so do it.’