Jose Mourinho conducted his pre-match press conference at Cobham ahead of tomorrow’s clash against Newcastle United, and the Blues boss believes the fact both our younger and more experienced players are performing to a high standard leaves us well placed to maintain our pursuit of Manchester City and Arsenal.
The Spaniard returned to training with the first team squad earlier this week having not featured since sustaining a knee injury in our 3-1 win over Manchester United.
Mourinho suggested he could play a part at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, and also provided an update on other players vying for a place in the starting line-up.
‘He’s almost there, but not there,’ said the Blues boss. ‘We won’t risk him, if it was the last game of the season I would say let’s go and do it. But we have lots of matches to play and it’s not right to risk him now.
‘If we lose a player now we lose him for a long time, it’s not the moment to lose players, it’s the moment to help them out. Tuesday is a much better possibility.
‘We have a couple of little things that we need to assess, not really injuries, but in terms of injuries it’s only Nando and Van Ginkel.’
Other subjects covered included his thoughts on tomorrow’s opponents, the continued improvement of the side and the race for the title.
Mourinho was widely praised for his tactical nous in the wake of our 1-0 win at Manchester City on Monday, and he spoke about the most positive aspect of the result in relation to the Premier League table.
‘We are still third but the good thing is that we can feel a little bit of space after Liverpool, who are fourth, and the other teams,’ he said. ‘It’s a big objective for all of us to finish in the top four and, if possible, the top three, with direct qualification for the Champions League.
‘When you see the gap after Liverpool it gives us some stability and when you have that stability you feel better to get results which allow you to stay near the top of the league.
‘We’ve improved and we’ve trained well. The younger players are getting stronger, the stable players are stable and the team is playing very well.
‘I said that even after a bad result against West Ham. Before the City game I said it was more important to play really well and show the direction we want to go in than to get the result. We did both at the same time but we’ll just go game by game.’
The Portuguese still believes his side remain outsiders for the title, even after becoming the only side in the league this season to win at the Etihad Stadium.
‘We are not a squad like City with every player in the best moment of their careers. All of them are between the ages of 24 and 30. All of them have been working together for quite a long time, the manager arrived and the team was ready for him.
‘Arsenal are the biggest example of stability and a manager working with players year after year. He’s worked with them since they were really young players – Ramsey, Sagna, Walcott, Wilshere – all these guys have been working with the same manager at the same club for many years.
‘We are different, we are just beginning. In the first day of next pre-season I will say yes we are there and we accept people considering Chelsea as candidates. Today, no. We are there because we are doing very well or because maybe Man City and Arsenal aren’t doing as well as they should with the conditions they have.
‘We don’t put ourselves at the same level as they are. Do we dream of winning the Premier League? Of course. If we didn’t we wouldn’t play. Do we want to win the next game against Newcastle and to be there? Of course we do. If we have the chance we are not going to say we don’t want to, but we don’t have the same responsibilities, that’s for sure.’
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s game, he feels some sympathy for his opposite number after Newcastle lost their most important player during the January transfer window.
‘I would be a hypocrite to say losing a player like Cabaye is not a problem for Alan because if I lose an important player and we don’t find a replacement it’s a problem for me, so my club could react to the fact we sold some players,’ he explained.
‘Unfortunately for Alan, they couldn’t give him a player to replace Cabaye and he is one of the best midfield players in the Premier League. But they have a good team, good players. They know they can beat us because they did a few months ago. Alan’s a good coach, they play well away from home so it will be difficult for sure.’
Having dropped two points in our previous home game, the goalless draw against West Ham United, we will look to build on the momentum acquired from the win over Manuel Pellegrini’s side tomorrow.
Taking the bigger picture into account, however, Mourinho is undoubtedly pleased with the way his side have been performing of late.
‘When we lost two points against West Ham many people were saying we have no attacking power to win every match, to win the Premier League and to compete against teams who score many goals,’ he said.
‘Just because we won against Man City people are now changing their opinion, but I know where we are, I know we are good and playing well. We are going step by step, let us enjoy the moment, the moment is good.’