Jose Mourinho has been recalling his time as Joe Cole’s manager, saying he is pleased he was able to develop our former midfielder, now at West Ham, into a better player.
Cole is yet to turn out at Stamford Bridge since leaving Chelsea in 2010, and unfortunately injury prevents him from playing any part in today’s game, where he would certainly have received a fantastic reception from former colleagues and supporters alike.
Cole was a key component of Mourinho’s title-winning sides in 2005 and 2006, with the Portuguese helping convert our former number 10 from a skilful midfielder capable of individual brilliance to a team player capable of consistency and quality in equal measure. Mourinho reflected on that transformation ahead of our game with Cole’s current employers, West Ham.
‘I very much enjoyed working with Joe,’ our manager said.
‘Maybe I’m wrong – and Joe is the one that can say if I’m wrong or not – but my opinion is that with us he had the best time of his career. He had a difficult five or six months but after that I think he had the best three years of his career with Chelsea and as a consequence of that with England, because he was a regular player for England too.
‘As a coach Joe is one of the examples you keep, and I keep a lot from my career, where you feel that we did something to make a player better. I like this because when you have players with talent but not other things, you can give them the other things. When the players have the other things but they don’t have the talent, you cannot give them the talent.
‘The way you train, the way you face competition, the responsibility to play in a collective situation and be ready to play in different positions and in different tactical systems – these are the things we managers can give them. Joe was a very talented player at that time and I think we helped him to be better.’
Our manager was able to compare Cole’s situation nearly a decade ago to that of Eden Hazard now, our in-form Belgian – incidentally a former team-mate of Cole’s at Lille – producing some of the best football of his career having himself been the beneficiary of Mourinho’s management.
‘Eden was much easier than I thought. If it was easier than I thought it is his responsibility, not my responsibility,’ he explained.
‘What I did was normal, the way he reacted was not normal. It was fantastic. His evolution is great. What I feel now with him is responsibility in every aspect. Against Man United I saw him make a fantastic tackle in our box. And then against Stoke I saw him with initiative not waiting for things to happen but making things happen.
‘He doesn’t feel the pressure and he isn’t afraid to risk things. I want him to be a joker and it is good that he brings to his game this happiness. You cannot stop the top players having this extra thing in their game. That’s not a problem for me.’
– January’s Score Predictor prize is a shirt signed by the team.