José Mourinho to rotate Chelsea squad

Manager says that some of his players showed ‘signs of fatigue’ in 1-0 defeat to Basle

José Mourinho of Chelsea looks on during the Uefa Champions League Group E match against FC Basle. Photograph:  Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

José Mourinho of Chelsea looks on during the Uefa Champions League Group E match against FC Basle. Photograph: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

 

Jose Mourinho plans to rotate his squad throughout December after witnessing Chelsea’s less than convincing progress to the Champions League knockout stages.

The Blues were beaten 1-0 by Basle, who claimed the double over the 2012 European champions, but advanced to the last 16 as Schalke drew 0-0 at Steaua Bucharest.

Chelsea play the Romanians on December 11 bidding to confirm top spot in Group E, something which eluded them in Switzerland as Mohamed Salah’s strike settled a match in which Mourinho’s men failed to muster a meaningful shot.

The limp loss was all the more surprising after the impressive display at West Ham, but Mourinho had made just one change from Upton Park.

It is likely he will regularly rotate his options next month, with Sunday’s Premier League contest with Southampton the first of nine matches in a congested period.

“Clearly I got signs of fatigue,” Mourinho said. “I got signs of players in trouble to play two consecutive matches in three days. That will push me, for sure, to make different kinds of decisions. That’s obvious. In some positions we have that situation resolved in a very easy way because we have lots of players to play the attacking positions on the right, on the left, behind the striker.

“We’ll make decisions, again not to punish players, because I don’t punish players when I’m not upset and when I’ve found a reason for a not-good performance. It’s not a question of punishment, it’s a question of using the squad and the options we have and to make changes when we have so many consecutive matches.”

Mourinho refused to criticise his players, but took little comfort from the performance.

He added: “The only positive thing is that we go through, but we don’t go through because we got the result, we go through because Schalke didn’t get the result. That, for me, is not the same. In the end we qualified, which is the first objective, and now we have the last match at home to get the result to finish first.

“I want to praise Basle. They won because we were sleeping in the last minutes, but they won also because they were the best team and they deserved to win.”

Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o was taken off on a stretcher in the first half and faces a scan to determine the full extent of his leg injury.

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