Jose Mourinho’s media conference to preview the Aston Villa game was understandably a quieter event than the one preceding his first match back as Chelsea manager, which drew one of the largest attendances to the press room at Cobham, but there were still many subjects to cover with Wednesday’s game coming hard on the heels of the victory over Hull.
There was immediate good news from Mourinho in his first answer, with no new injury concerns following Sunday’s win. He listed only two members of the squad as unavailable – David Luiz who is close to returning from a hamstring problem and Tomas Kalas who suffered a small fracture of the leg midway through pre-season.
‘Normally David Luiz should be available for next week,’ the manager reported.
‘He is not yet with the group, he is training with fitness coaches and physios. He is better but not yet ready.’
Attention quickly turned to our next opponents who matched Chelsea in winning the opening fixture, in their case away to Arsenal.
‘That was a surprise yes,’ admitted Mourinho when asked if that was the case, ‘because we always expect the big teams and the title contenders to win their matches, but we know we cannot win all the time and we lose points sometimes and it happened to Arsenal this match. Probably in the second fixtures it will be another contender who loses points. But that is the beauty of this league and of football.
‘It was not such a big surprise because Aston Villa can do that to anyone of the contenders, and if you see the stats on last season they had more points away from home than at Villa Park so they are a team with quality to play away, to play the counter-attack game they played at the Emirates.’
When he talks about contenders Mourinho has six teams in mind. ‘Let’s see if any of the six is good enough to make the real difference and go on to be dominant or if it [the title race] will be to the end,’ he told the media.
He also reiterated the club will continue efforts to add one more player to the squad until the last day of the transfer window, but added agreement to comments from Newcastle manager Alan Pardew yesterday that the window stretches too far into the season.
This afternoon’s conference concluded with questions about two existing squad members who impressed in the opening game – Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard.
Was Lampard’s new contract one of the best pieces of business done by the club?
‘What everyone wanted to happen happened,’ Mourinho said.
‘The club always wanted it and Frank always wanted it, and when I came into the picture I was also happy with him staying. It was clear what the fans wanted, so let’s all enjoy Frank and Frank will enjoy Chelsea and his football.
‘He knows I trust him a lot but he also knows he is not 25 anymore, so the crazy Lamps that wants to play every minute of a Carling Cup match against a team from the Championship, the crazy Frank that wants to beat the record appearances is not here anymore. So now he wants to keep his performances high for as long as we can so we have to be intelligent. In the same way sometimes we have to protect young players, we have to protect players over 30. We will do that naturally and I believe he will be a fantastic player for us.’
It was a Belgian reporter who asked about Hazard, and how Mourinho can progress the winger’s game and why he calls him Eddie.
‘I call him Eddie because it is easy, it is a nice nickname and he hasn’t complained.
‘I don’t know what I can bring but I know what I want from him. I want more responsibility and I want more ambition, because when you are a normal player you have to be happy when you perform okay, when you have some actions during the game that show your quality.
‘When you have top talent you cannot waste that talent so I want to give him that ambition to be better and better, and to express himself on the pitch, match after match, not be up and down.
‘He has the conditions to be a real top player. Football is full of top talents but not many top players. He is working very hard and I am very pleased with him. In the second part of pre-season in the States he was already coming in my direction and I am very happy with him.’
– A clip of the conference can be viewed above with the full video available now via CTV’s online access.