Jose Mourinho is delighted with the direction his Chelsea side are heading in, reserving particular praise for his two goalscorers at the KC stadium this afternoon.
An even opening period ended goalless, with Yannick Sagbo and Oscar both feeling they should have scored the game’s opening goal. We didn’t panic, though, and an improved Chelsea performance in the second half, like at Southampton and Derby, was capped by a spectacular Eden Hazard strike – the Belgian on top form yet again – and a sweet Fernando Torres finish.
Top of the league, five wins out of six in all competitions and with just one goal conceded in that time, Jose Mourinho was understandably a happy man…
‘It was another good performance – very stable, very calm,’ said Mourinho. ‘In the first half they controlled us very well and defended well. They changed their system to adapt to us: they pressed a lot, they were compact, so we couldn’t create a lot of chances, but we didn’t open up too much or get frustrated.
‘We never lost our balance, we kept our shape tactically, and we didn’t give them opportunities to score. In the second half when we had a little bit more of the ball we intensified the game and recovered the ball higher, so I think normally the tendency would be for a goal.
‘After that goal I was happy because we were in control, we didn’t go to defend. We controlled the game well, and I think the second goal for us was more likely than a goal for them, and when we scored the second goal it was game over.’
Hazard’s goal, and overall performance, caught the eye again.
‘He is playing very well for a long time. The club made a big investment in him last year because they trust him a lot. He is more than just a talented kid now. He feels and accepts the responsibility, accepts that a team player is more than a talented player.
‘Without losing his fantastic ability he is giving us other things. The kid is in a very good moment of his career with three consecutive man of the matches. Let’s see if the Barclays Premier League decide to give him a player of the month, because the kid is waiting and the trophy is not arriving. Maybe they don’t like to go to Cobham!’
The victory moves us top of the table, at least until Manchester City’s game at Newcastle tomorrow.
‘It’s important because it helps the players to be better and stronger and to grow up faster. To play under pressure, when you’re near the top of the league like we are, is good.
‘All the players are stable in their performances, the younger players are improving a lot and the team is getting better, so that’s a consequence of the work everyone is doing.
‘Do we like to be leaders? Yes, we like, but maybe tomorrow we are second and maybe Monday we are third. The important thing is that we all know we are going in the right direction.’
A Chelsea striker scored for the third league game running.
‘Our strikers, without being the top scorers, are all giving us important things. They are working hard for the team. In the last matches goals are coming a little bit more, but the way they work for the team is always there. Fernando did what we wanted him to do: press central defenders, hold the ball up, wait for support, get behind the defenders where he is powerful, and score an important goal.
On how our supporters have always got behind our players.
‘The players never feel the heat when things are not going well for them. Chelsea fans are like this. I remember when we had (Mateja) Kezman, he scored his first goal in December, and all the fans were supporting him; it is Chelsea fan’s nature which really helps the players, especially in the difficult periods. Special fans, special club.’
Like on the opening day of the season, Hull were beaten by a 2-0 scoreline.
‘Hull are good enough to stay up. They have a very good manager, big evolution in the team since the first game of the season, they are more than comfortable playing at this level.
‘They don’t stay in the Premier League by beating Chelsea, they stay by beating Norwich and Fulham and the teams that compete with them directly.’
Mourinho gave a half-term report on his team, marked out of 10.
‘We could do better because we lost some points that we shouldn’t have, but it could also be worse. Not a five, not a 10. Seven, seven-and-a-half, eight – around there.
‘I think things come naturally, step by step. They know that next year we are going to be better. Winning or not winning, you have to be on top of your responsibility’s every day. They are doing well, they are enjoying it and now, let’s see how it ends.’
Steve Bruce admitted his side couldn’t maintain their level of performance, which eventually proved costly…
‘First half we did okay but in the second half we didn’t keep the ball well enough,’ said the Hull manager.
‘Hazard was for me the best player on the pitch. He scored a wonder goal and after that it became a very difficult afternoon, it became stretched and open and their top players had more space to show their quality.’