Jose Mourinho is not a manager who often summons up famous football clichés when discussing a game, but he decided one was suitable when speaking shortly after the London SW6 derby win at Craven Cottage.
‘A game of two halves,’ described the 3-1 away win with Andre Schurrle netting a second-half hat-trick after a flat and goalless first half. Fulham grabbed their consolation goal late in the game.
With Arsenal losing at Stoke, the win strengthened Chelsea’s position in the upper reaches of the league table and although he was delighted with what he watched in the second-half by the River Thames, the action before the interval had left Mourinho if not speechless, then unwilling to talk…
‘I didn’t say a word at half-time,’ he revealed.
‘The first half was really bad for us, I didn’t know if Fulham controlled us or we didn’t start. I was really disappointed because before the match we said they cannot have more motivation than us because although they have big motivation because they need points to stay in the Premier League, they cannot have more desire than us because we also have our objectives.
‘It is a derby and that always means something more to the fans so it is important we play with the same attitude Fulham have. In the first half that was not the case. Fulham were committed and aggressive in a good way. They were wining first and second balls, there was great work by Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell in the middle, and we were not there.
‘In the second half the team was able to change the intensity and started winning individual contests. Our line was coming up and we were attacking spaces behind their defensive line; the second half was really good.’
Mourinho said it was the first-time he had given no half-time talk as Chelsea manager and probably the first time in his career…
‘Normally I give the players two or three minutes to clean or change shirts and boots, and after that they know I start talking. They were there ready for me and I was not ready for them, so I decided not to speak because if I started talking about the half I need more than the 10 minutes.
‘They showed that they are very intelligent because without words they understood. They could transform a poor first half into a fantastic second half.’
Responding to whether tiredness due to the midweek game in Turkey had affected his players, Mourinho allowed himself a little wry smile…
‘Maybe the first half was the period for them to take the lactate from their muscles because it is removed from your system with low intensity muscular activity,’ he said, ‘and because they were walking on the pitch or running slowly, maybe they were cleaning their muscles for the second half and were ready to do what they did. This was really what you call the game of two halves. The first half was very poor and the second half was brilliant.’
Schurrle was naturally one of the main talking points having doubled his Chelsea goal tally with a 17-minute salvo.
‘He is in a learning process in relation to the Premier League,’ Mourinho noted about the 23-year-old.
‘He needs to understand it and experiment. The referees are good, they don’t give many fouls and the defenders are aggressive in a good way. The teams are fighting teams and you need to defend even if you are an attacking player.
‘It is difficult for him to play 90 minutes for us because he is doing things that he has never done in his life but what I expect from him is this – cold blood in front of the goal. He is not a guy for whom the goal becomes very small. He is the kind of guy who in front of goal is normally cool. He is a finisher. He sees the keeper’s reaction and he can do it with the left and the right foot. I expect him to score some goals.’
Eden Hazard supplied the final pass for the first two Schurrle goals and the Belgian also had Chelsea fans enthusing about a nutmeg on a defender followed by a superbly flighted rabona-style cross from behind his standing leg…
‘It is a skill that not all of them can do in a match and it is a skill he could do in the second half because he was there, and the first half he was not there, like all the others,’ said Mourinho.
‘When he is confident and playing well and with happiness like in the second half, this is the kind of skill that is fantastic, and if the defender hadn’t touched the ball then Fernando Torres scores what would have been a very good goal.’
Fulham boss Felix Magath, after his first home game, was left to follow Mourinho in contrasting the two halves…
‘I was satisfied with the first half,’ said the German. Most of it we had control of the game and we gave Chelsea not many chances. We had two or three good situations but after half-time the team forgot to defend and for us it was a very big problem that our captain [Brede Hangeland] went off injured and was not there in the second half.’