As he prepares his side for the first of two Premier League London derbies in the next eight days, Jose Mourinho has been speaking about the way in which he is trying to shape his squad.
The Blues will be looking to get back to winning ways when we welcome Fulham to Stamford Bridge later today (Saturday) following disappointing results against Everton and Basel in our last two matches.
Mourinho’s teams over the years have been defensively sound, and while he of course wants his current side to be difficult to break down, with a squad littered with creative, attacking talent, he wants us to utilise that threat.
‘We have good players, we have good talent and it’s a question of time,’ he said. ‘First of all, the most important thing is the collective personality of the team. If you look at many national sides, the profile isn’t to have initiative, the profile is to be waiting, to be compact and solid defensively and to wait for the opponent to make a mistake.
‘I’ve played like that sometimes, many times at some clubs, it’s not a critic it’s just an option. It’s about what is a priority for you. In this club the results can never not be a priority because it’s in my nature, I want results.
‘I’m not trying to protect myself by hiding behind the style and the project, that I don’t care about results and I want seven years to get results, I’m not saying that, but the reality is that we want to play a certain style.
‘The reality is that we played against Everton who were, until that time, the team with most ball possession in the Premier League. Chelsea go to Goodison Park and have 60 per cent possession, 21 shots and six big chances to score, but lose the match.’
The side which started the game against Basel in midweek contained three players 22 years old or below, but while the average age of the team was 27, the Portuguese explained why the inclusion of the trio – Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marco van Ginkel – was so significant.
‘It’s one thing to have an experienced team in terms of average age, but another is where the young players are on the pitch,’ said the Blues boss. ‘If you have a right-back that’s fine, if you have a left-back that’s fine, if you have one player in a certain area of the pitch that’s fine, but if you have three or four in areas where you have to build and create, that’s a very inexperienced team.
‘If I bring a kid from the Academy, 18 years old, and I play him right-back with Gary Cahill, John Terry and Ashley Cole, and in front of him (Michael) Essien and (John Obi) Mikel, the kid is an oasis in a desert of experience, no problem.
‘The problem is when you have young players where you have to make decisions, where you have to decide the pace of the game, where you have to decide when to press or stay, or play vertical or horizontal. When you have all the players in one area who need to understand the game better and to feel the game and move up, it’s a problem, but it’s a problem we know about.’
With the summer transfer window now closed, the squad in its current form will remain in place until January at the earliest. Mourinho is completely satisfied with the players he has at his disposal, and acknowledged the importance of one man in particular – John Terry.
‘I don’t want new players in January, but at the end of the season, as a natural evolution, we may find one player here or one player there that can make us better,’ he explained. ‘We also have players in the Academy and some of them I would be very happy to play them in some matches.
‘I need him (Terry), that’s why we’ve played four matches in the Premier League and he played 360 minutes. Last year he wasn’t playing, a right-back was playing in the centre of defence, he wasn’t being selected and was on the bench, so the picture has changed for him.
‘He went from our big captain to having a bad season last season, but this season is completely different. We have three central defenders, plus Branislav Ivanovic as an option, and Tomas Kalas, a young kid who was injured for the last two months.
‘Sometimes I play John and Gary, sometimes Gary and David Luiz and sometimes David Luiz and John, like I did at Everton. He’s the only one of the three that in the Premier League has played 360 minutes, so he’s important for me.
‘The good thing with some players, not just my players but overall, the thing that makes the difference is when you have the same relationship with them whether they play or don’t play. John, (Frank) Lampard and Ashley (Cole), they are the kind of examples who think the manager is the manager and he decides what he thinks is best for the team.’
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