The Blues will go in search of a third consecutive win at Villa Park tomorrow, but with the match preceding Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Galatasaray, Jose Mourinho is keen for his side to take one game at a time.
Having conducted his previous two press conferences at Stamford Bridge, today’s was held in the familiar surroundings of Cobham, where the Portuguese was greeted by the assembled media.
Mourinho reported tomorrow’s game comes too soon for injured defenders David Luiz and Ashley Cole, but he may be able to call on the services of Fernando Torres, after the striker limped out of the warm-up ahead of last week’s win against Tottenham.
‘We will have no David and no Ashley,’ he said when asked on the availability of the defensive pair.
‘Fernando is much, much better. Maybe I’ll take him tomorrow, maybe I won’t take him and I’ll try everything for Tuesday. It depends on today’s training and conversations after the session, but yesterday he looked okay.
‘The dedication to the recovery was great by him and the physios. He’s tried everything to recover. If you feel it during the game maybe the adrenalin takes you through, but when you feel it in the warm-up before the game you don’t risk it.’
With both Arsenal and Manchester City suffering Champions League elimination in midweek, both teams are now free to focus on the Premier League, but whether or not that gives them an advantage in the title race, according to Mourinho, remains to be seen.
‘It depends on us, if we manage to go through we will have two matches in the quarter-finals against a big opponent and that means a lot,’ he explained.
‘If Galatasaray beat us and we are out of the Champions League, everybody has the same conditions.’
The Chelsea manager also responded to claims from City’s Yaya Toure that, by talking about his rivals, he had shown them a lack of respect.
‘If to say the English teams can do it, that Arsenal and City have enough quality to go to Munich and the Camp Nou and turn things around, if to support the teams from the country where I work is a lack of respect, okay,’ he said.
‘Man City and Arsenal showed I was right, they had enough quality to do it and they both played very good matches, so I don’t think that’s a lack of respect, it’s support. In the same way I say that Man City have three matches in hand and they’re capable of winning all three and going top, if that’s a lack of respect he has a strange concept of what a lack of respect is.
‘I tried to be respectful with the two English teams and I want to say the same about Man United. I think Man United are a better team than Olympiacos and I hope they do it. Tomorrow, if Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick or Rio Ferdinand say Mourinho is not being respectful with us, I think they are wrong, because I support the English teams and I wasn’t happy the English teams went out of the competition.’
The Blues go into tomorrow’s game unbeaten in the Premier League since a 3-2 reverse at Stoke City in December and having won on our previous two visits to Aston Villa.
Paul Lambert’s side, however, haven’t played since beating Norwich City 4-1 a fortnight ago, leaving Mourinho in no doubt we will face a serious examination.
‘Tomorrow we have a very difficult game,’ said the Blues boss. ‘Three points would be fabulous, one point is not a bad result at Villa Park. Zero points would be a negative result but we’ll just go match by match and after Villa comes Arsenal in the Premier League.
‘We are on a good run but every game is difficult and the difference between winning and not winning is very narrow. We don’t look at the table because the table is fake. We don’t look at the matches of our direct opponents because it doesn’t help. If I watch Tottenham against Arsenal and I really want Tottenham to win the match, does it help? No, so we play our matches, try to do the best we can and nothing else.’
While we’ve scored seven goals in our last two matches, Mourinho expressed his pleasure with the attitude of his players during the periods in which we haven’t been at our best.
‘The team is motivated and the team is strong. We have a good mentality and spirit but not because of the table. They know the table is fake and they know we have to try to win every match and try to improve,’ he explained.
‘We have clear objectives for next season but if we can reach them this season we won’t say no. We are very calm, very relaxed and that’s important. Against Fulham we played very badly in the first half but the team was comfortable and calm. Tottenham played a very good first half against us and we didn’t panic, so to be calm and relaxed is the best thing.’
As the press conference drew to a close, the Portuguese was asked for his thoughts on the winners of February’s Player and Manager of the Month awards – Sam Allardyce and Daniel Sturridge.
Mourinho was full of praise for the West Ham United manager, but struggled to comprehend how one of his own players is still awaiting recognition in that particular area.
‘I think Sam deserves it, he won four consecutive matches in February,’ he said. ‘When you win every match in the month normally you have to win the award. I didn’t in some of the months where I won every match, but that’s me. Sam deserves it because, like a shotgun, he took the team from a dangerous position.
‘For Hazard to arrive at March without one single award makes me laugh.’