Anyone who witnessed Chelsea’s first-half performance against Hull City couldn’t help but be impressed with the football played. As the season progresses, Jose Mourinho anticipates the team being able to sustain such high-octane attacking play for longer in the game, and he is looking for improvements elsewhere too.
Following Sunday’s 2-0 win when the goals came before the interval, the manager explained he was initially disappointed the intensity of the push forward was not maintained after half-time, but that he quickly came to realise it was because the three attacking midfielders behind Fernando Torres had played in high-level international games a few days earlier, straight after returning from pre-season tour.
‘Those are positions not the same as in defence when you can rest and stay,’ Mourinho further explained this week.
‘Those are positions where you are always in action, and we were trying to also press the ball and those three players dipped down.
‘We didn’t play that way intentionally because at half-time we spoke about trying to start the second half the same direction and kill the game. We couldn’t and credit too to Hull because they adapted the game in a different way.
‘Because the score was 2-0 I didn’t want to change immediately but you could see when I put Schurrle and Lukaku on, the team gave a little push that made a difference to that second half – but we have to try because it is a style of play very adapted to the qualities of our players, not to three of them but to six because we play with three but we have Moses and Mata and Schurrle for the same positions, so even with a busy schedule we can use rotation and keep this same profile of players.
‘It is a style of play that people like, so if we can add that quality of game with the ambition of getting points it is good.
‘I believe the team will be able to play that way for longer and longer but it is not just about intensity, I need my team to improve other aspects of their game.’
However Mourinho is especially pleased because changes to the way the side play have been brought on not by significant changes in personnel but by plenty of work on the training pitch.
‘For a coach it is a very good feeling,’ he says, ‘and we have been working in Asia on certain kinds of movements and certain kinds of game and that happened immediately in the first game.
‘But you have to play also with the qualities of your opponent, with strategy and game plan, and sometimes we have to play differently because the opponent doesn’t let us play in a certain kind of style, but this something we like, this is something we feel comfortable with and this is something we are going to work on a lot.’
Also on the agenda is developing ruthlessness when the chance to hammer home an advantage is there.
‘We want to win matches but when you have the chance to destroy, beat a team by three or four of five, we have to do it because when somebody has the chance to do it to you, they don’t forgive you.
‘If somebody feels they can do it to us they will do it so if we have the chance we have to do it. When you can show you are much better you have to show it because when you are in trouble they smash you.’