Steve Holland was on post-match media duties following our Capital One Cup tie at Swindon, and was pleased to have won but admitted there are injury concerns over Marco van Ginkel and Ramires.
First-half goals from Fernando Torres and Ramires, who had replaced Van Ginkel early on, were enough to see us past our League One opponents, as a much-changed Chelsea side dominated proceedings for much of the match.
Jose Mourinho made 10 changes to the side which beat Fulham at the weekend, allowing various members of his squad some important match practice ahead of a busy period of important fixtures.
Assistant Holland believes several of those figures will be in contention to face Spurs at the weekend, having impressed at the County Ground, but there will be concerns over Tuesday’s casualties.
‘It wasn’t perfect because we’ve got an injury to Marco which is a little bit too early to be certain but it doesn’t look good,’ Holland said. ‘He’ll have a scan tomorrow on the injury to his knee and his substitute Ramires had to go off with a muscular injury at the top of the hip in the gluteal area which was causing more discomfort as he tried to run it off. He’ll be a major doubt for the Tottenham game at the weekend. They’re the two major disappointments of the evening.’
Injuries aside, there were positives in the performances of Juan Mata and Fernando Torres, with the kind of work-rates demanded by Mourinho in his forwards. Holland discussed both at length. On Mata, he said:
‘A lot has been made of the Mata situation because he’s a high-profile player. The message from Jose to all our attacking players from day one has been they need to contribute offensively in terms of their production, not just look a good player but to score goals, make chances and be a threat to the opposition goal, but of course they have to contribute out of possession and defend. That’s been the challenge not just to Juan but to all our attacking players.
‘If you look at his performance tonight, he made Fernando’s chance early in the game, he was involved in the goal, so if you take those moments, it’s goal-making and goalscoring actions, and then in injury time he conceded the final corner of the game supporting Ryan Bertrand in the left-back spot, which is how he as all night. That’s been the message from Jose from day one to all our attacking players, not just Juan Mata.
‘Jose has made it quite clear what he wants the attacking players to do in all those positions. That message is not just to Juan, it’s to Willian, Kevin, Andre Schurrle, all those players. Tonight we are very pleased with Juan’s contribution, with and without the ball.’
On Torres, Holland admitted he felt the goal would be good for the striker, adding:
‘Similar to Juan, he has threatened the goal, got the goal and had maybe three other chances, so he got in good positions and worked very hard for the team all night, which is the standard we’re looking for across every position.
‘Whenever you have a game in training and you speak to a midfielder or defender in a five-a-side, they don’t know the score, you ask a striker and he knows, and he knows how many he has scored. It’s part of their DNA, I’m sure they’re all the same, they want to score goals and it’s ultimately how they’re assessed so I’m sure from that point of view I’m sure Fernando is delighted but his contribution in all aspects was very good.
‘The attacking players have got to produce, to be productive. The number nine, you look for more goals from than the number 10, seven or 11.’
The win moves us into the last 16 of the Capital One Cup, and Holland believes the manager is determined to bring silverware to Stamford Bridge as soon as possible.
‘We have four chances and we have a squad of 20 outfield players where there is not a lot in between the majority of the players. At this stage of the season it’s important we play twice a week to give regular games to all of the squad.
‘That might change a bit towards the end of the season when you’re looking to rest players, but it’s good to have the regular fixtures and it’s an opportunity to win a trophy in February, the first one, and that’s the target.
‘The most important factor is Jose wants to win trophies full stop. What it looks like and what it’s called, I don’t think it makes a great deal of difference. Everything we are in we want to have a go at, and we have the squad to back that up.’
Finally, Holland was asked about plans for the Tottenham game this weekend, though he explained straight off the back of facing Swindon, it was too early to tell.
‘The first thing to do is take stock tomorrow. We got at least two potential casualties. We’ve got a group that will train tomorrow. The lads not involved tonight have had a relatively quiet couple of days, the boys that have been involved tonight will have a day off tomorrow.
‘Tomorrow will be a day of reflection and discussion. We’ll look at the game again and then have two days to put the plan forward. We’re very fortunate to have a squad where in the majority of positions there is very little between the players and I’m quite sure Jose will decide based on who is doing well at that particular moment.’