Jose Mourinho reported there will be no change on the injury front at his pre-match press conference at Cobham, adding the mood of the players has improved as our results have in the past week.
The manager was speaking to the media at the training ground ahead of what could be Chelsea’s last visit to West Ham’s Upton Park tomorrow afternoon, and he began by responding to a question about what the latest team news was.
“The same, exactly the same,” Mourinho said. That means the quartet who missed our trip to Kiev – Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanovic, Loic Remy and Pedro – remain unavailable.
The 52-year-old manager said it was better to have played on Tuesday this week and not Wednesday as it gave his players an extra 24 hours to prepare for opposition whose position in the league table – fourth – shows their quality, and who have not been in midweek action. He was then asked what the significance of our two straight shutouts has been.
“They are important, not just the clean sheets but the way the team played to keep the clean sheets. They were not occasional clean sheets, ones based on super goalkeeper performances, they were both clean sheets based on good teamwork.
“I try to make the best decisions for the team, I analyse the opponents and what I think the game can be. I try to reduce the unpredictability of every match. This is not about defenders, this is about the team and the team defended really well as a team in both matches.”
Mourinho was then asked if his attitude to walking around London had changed this week in light of some media reports, with the journalist pointing out our boss has long spoken of how comfortable he feels walking through the capital’s streets, indeed sometimes walking home after matches at the Bridge. A club spokesman responded:
“Chelsea Football Club notes two recent stories concerning Jose Mourinho being filmed on mobile phones.
“While Jose understands the laws pertaining to filming in public places, the two teenagers in question followed him from his home for well over 20 minutes and constantly interrupted a private telephone call which he and the Club believes goes beyond the bounds of reasonable behaviour.
“Jose has always spoken warmly, as you point out, of the public reception he receives in London but considers these last two instances as overly intrusive.
“We also note the allegation of intimidation, which Jose strongly refutes and which his legal representatives will continue to monitor closely.”
Focusing back on matters on the pitch, Mourinho reiterated his satisfaction at the team’s and every individual’s performance against Dynamo Kiev, including that of Eden Hazard. He noted the contrast between the situations in Europe and at home when considering how his side finished Tuesday’s match, knowing we couldn’t afford to lose.
“The Premier League is different: 38 matches, lots of points, you lose today and you try to win tomorrow. At the moment we are not afraid to lose matches in the Premier League, we are going to play normally.
“We could immediately feel some individual performances from the last two results and performances. To give you one example, Matic went from being on the bench against Aston Villa, to playing the second half against Aston Villa positively, to being the man of the match three days later. Other players also improved their performances, so [it has been] a bit better.”
While the manager could not guarantee the worst part of the season is now over, he has been able to draw plenty of positives from the last seven days.
“The team and players have always been together. The players have been man enough to assume responsibilities and even publicly say that. Statistics are very clear for us. As an example we have conceded six goals as a consequence of isolated individual mistakes, but the team were always together.
“We have got two important results, three points in the Premier League after two matches without a victory, and against a direct rival in the Champions League we got a point away. The group was always solid and compact and together but obviously the mood improves with results and people are happy.”