Players to be rested as Mourinho seeks ‘different dynamic’

Champions League: Maccabi offer respite from domestic toils

José Mourinho will make changes to his Chelsea lineup for their opening group game against Maccabi Tel Aviv tonight as he seeks to revive his side after their worst start to a top-flight campaign in 29 years, though he bristled at suggestions that, on past form, his third season was when everything generally went wrong. At the inference that he had difficulty sustaining momentum into a third campaign, the manager grew frustrated with the line of questioning and pointed to success in stints in London and Madrid.

"My third season in Porto? I didn't have a third season. In Inter, I didn't have a third season. My third season at Chelsea the first time, I won the FA Cup and the Carling Cup, and I played the Champions League semi-finals.

"The third season in Real Madrid I won the Super Cup, lost the cup final, and I went to the Champions League semi-finals. These are my third seasons. So click Google instead of asking stupid questions. You spoke about the third season, and I'm telling you the question is stupid. I know the point is that the question is stupid.

“Asking about building dynasties is a different question. I haven’t done that before. This will be the first time I’m trying to do that, so I don’t have previous experience from the past.”


Mourinho intends to offer some of his increasingly beleaguered players a breather against the Israelis, with one eye on Saturday's derby against Arsenal. Mourinho trained at Cobham yesterday with a 23-man squad that included Oscar and Baba Rahman; only Radamel Falcao, who is nursing a slight tendon injury, was absent.

His side have won only once to date this season and languish just above the relegation zone in the Premier League, already 11 points behind Manchester City at the top, with European competition potentially offering respite from domestic toils.

"We are not all smiles, laughing and joking," said Mourinho, who has seen the likes of Branislav Ivanovic and Nemanja Matic labour to date this season. "It's a basic answer. When people are not getting their success that you work for, and I promise you we work a lot for that, people are frustrated and not happy. That's basic.

“I have a squad. I trust the squad and I don’t have to play with the same XI. I can make changes. I know the consequences of that because, if I make a couple of changes in my team, instead of you saying ‘he has a squad, he has more options, he is looking for a new dynamic, he wants to give a couple of chances to people who have been working hard’, I know what you will say. If I leave out [Cesar] Azpilicueta, it’s ‘because I have a problem with him’. The same with Terry, the same with Fàbregas. I know the consequences.

“But I cannot be worried about that. I have to be just worried about my team and players. Yes, I will make a couple of changes because I have to try a different dynamic, I have to try a couple of different faces, and to give chances to people who have not been playing but have been working hard. I promise you we are working. When we say business as usual, it’s true. Business as usual, with one difference. We are not happy.”

Mourinho, who was backed publicly by his goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic, insisted he was not under pressure despite the team’s slack start – “they have beaten only West Bromwich Albion to date this term” – and intimated that he was afforded different treatment to other managers.

“The only real problem we have is we don’t have good results,” he said. “Our lives are about getting good results, but, you know, at other clubs you have to go back two, three, five, six, 10 years to remember good results.

“In our case, you have to go back three months. Three months ago we were the best team in the country, the best manager, the players.

“Why are some managers not in difficult situations five, six, 10 years [without winning trophies]? And I am the current champion of England, so why should I be in trouble? Why? We’re not happy, but we know what we are.

“It’s the same music the fans sing every game: we know what we are, champions of England. Our start has been so, so bad, but nobody can steal our trophies, our history. Nobody can do that. You can try, but you can’t do that. We know what we are. Champions of England.” Guardian Service