Oscar and Frank Lampard will both start in Wednesday’s Champions League group game against Basel, with Jose Mourinho set to name four youngsters in his starting line-up.
Mourinho confirmed his latest team news before a packed Cobham press room as he prepares to take charge of his first European game as Chelsea manager in six years, explaining he believes the more inexperienced players of his squad need such outings to continue their development.
‘No injuries at all. Everybody is fit,’ the manager reported, before explaining he had not yet told all the players of his team selection. ‘They don’t know. Sometimes they know. This time they don’t know,’ he said.
‘I just spoke with a couple of players individually about the game tomorrow. A couple of players know they are going to start, and the players I spoke to, I tell you, because they know. Lampard and Oscar, all the others I didn’t speak to.’
In his last Champions League press conference as our manager, before our draw against Rosenborg in 2007, Mourinho lamented not having his ‘best eggs’ available for the game. Asked today what the eggs of 2013 were like, he responded in typical style as he set out his immediate objectives in this competition.
‘Beautiful young eggs,’ he smiled. ‘Eggs that need a mum, in this case a dad, to take care of them, to keep them warm during the winter, to bring the blanket and to work and improve them. One day they will arrive in the moment where the weather changes, the sun rises, you break the eggs and the eggs are ready to go to the top level.
‘It’s important for the club, for everybody, it’s important for a team of kids, not just kids but a team that for example will tomorrow start the match with four players under 22, and if you think as we think in the club, in the evolution of the players and the team, it’s very important for them to play on the big stage, and the big stage is the Champions League.
‘There is a big difference between the Champions League and Europa League, and we don’t think the Europa League is the best habitat for players who want to be big players. They have to play Champions League, so we have this group with Schalke that people don’t know probably how good they are, I know, with Basel, who at a first look maybe at a first look people think not so difficult, but I remember two years ago, Man United out and Basel through, last year Tottenham out and Basel through. Last year, Chelsea through, but it’s a difficult team.’
He is not just wanting to give experience to the younger players, however. There remains a burning desire to be successful.
‘We want to do the process but at the same time, we want to win,’ said the Portuguese. ‘I am not the kind of person to accept peacefully the process by not winning. I don’t think it’s the best education or experience. We want to put on ourselves not massive pressure where you have to win; win or win, but we want to have the pressure of building but at the same time winning. We lost one match, it’s the worst start in 10 years, but it’s the kind of match you play 10 times and win nine and lose one.’
Twice a winner of the competition while with Porto and Inter, Mourinho admits he would love to lift the famous trophy again while Chelsea manager.
‘The Champions League is still a competition I like very much to play,’ he said. ‘Tomorrow I want to enjoy the game as I always do, because I enjoy football, and want obviously to try to start the group phase by winning. Last season Chelsea went outside its natural habitat, the Champions League, and went out to a competition which is not a Chelsea competition. We don’t want to play in the Europa League. When you start with a victory, normally it’s a good step in the direction of qualifying. It doesn’t mean you qualify but a big step, so tomorrow we have to try to win.
‘I have no obsessions in football. I never had. I don’t have. I don’t like my teams to have, but I want to win for the third time, I want Chelsea to win for the second time. This is the beginning of the process.’