In the wake of our 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion, Jose Mourinho, while acknowledging his disappointment at not maintaining our 100 per cent home record in the Barclays Premier League, praised the collective personality of his squad for the manner in which we fought to earn a point.
Two second-half goals from the visitors turned the contest on its head after Samuel Eto’o had given us the lead just before the break, and it required a last-gasp penalty, won by Ramires and converted by Eden Hazard, to salvage a draw for the Blues.
‘When you are losing and playing against a very defensive team, and when they have no problem with putting everyone in the box to close every space, it is difficult,’ Mourinho said. ‘But we did what we had to do. We weren’t afraid of risking, playing with three defenders and then two defenders – and one of those defenders was a midfielder because one of the other defenders was in the box as a striker.
‘We threw everything at them. So in an emotional way, yes, I think we could have died with that second goal, but the boys fought for life.
‘When they scored the second it’s easy to die, especially for a team who played three days before and had players who were tired. For example, Oscar was showing that a bit; I risked and gambled a lot, but the players have to accept that if they are scared of it, then I can’t do it.
‘Everything we did today was because of a strong personality. We had a bad result – because drawing at home to West Brom isn’t a good result – but we rescued a point.’
Up until Hazard’s late intervention, it looked as though Mourinho was on course for a first home league defeat as Chelsea manager, a run which stretches back to his first spell in charge of the club.
He insisted, however, preserving such an impressive run wasn’t uppermost in his mind as we peppered the West Brom goal late on.
‘The opposition can think about it, but I don’t,’ he said. ‘My record is good enough to lose a game and accept that the record finishes.
‘I have a record that I have accumulated with my English football, Italian football and Spanish football – and Portuguese football. When I lost that first game at home in Madrid I went to the opposition dressing room to say well done for ending my record. Here I will do the same when that day comes.’
For the second consecutive game, Cesar Azpilicueta was deployed at left-back, with Ashley Cole an unused substitute, and while Mourinho was full of praise for the young Spaniard, he expects Cole to be back in the starting line-up in the near future.
‘I can make mistakes, I can be unfair, for sure I am and for sure I do that, but I always give a lot of thought to my decisions,’ explained the Blues boss.
‘I decided for Azpi to play against Schalke, and he was fantastic, today he was very good again, so I think Ashley is a top professional, the fighter he is, he has to work hard to fight hard because the place is his place.
‘Of course it is not Azpilicueta’s best position; it is not a position where Ashley can think he is in trouble now. He has to just fight and the position is there waiting for him, it is not a problem.’
Prior to kick-off, the Portuguese enjoyed a warm embrace with his friend and opposite number, Steve Clarke, who received a wonderful ovation from the home supporters for his achievements at Stamford Bridge, both as a player and assistant to Mourinho, with the Chelsea manager praising the job he is doing at the Hawthorns.
‘Steve is a good guy, he is a good coach,’ he said. ‘He has adapted his way of organising his players to the profile of his team, they are a team to finish in mid-table, every point for them is a great point.
‘They defend very well; they waited for the counter attack to see if they can score goals and they do this well.’