Mourinho stresses good of the collective as Chelsea face tricky trip to Stoke
Title race hotting up as defending champions Manchester City draw level on 39 points at the top
Jose Mourinho: “I think everybody has to be ready to sacrifice for the team, to give everything for the team, to think about the team, not to be selfish.” Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA
Jose Mourinho’s insistence that the good of the collective be placed ahead of an individual’s desire to feature dictates that the Chelsea manager will volunteer no explanation, even to senior players displaced in his selection.
The Portuguese takes his side to Stoke City tonight seeking to re-establish a three-point advantage at the top of the Premier League, with Thibaut Courtois expected to start in goal, Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back and Cesc Fabregas in central midfield despite the impressive form of Petr Cech, Filipe Luis and Mikel John Obi.
Mourinho merely intends to list his line-up for the Britannia Stadium in a team meeting today and while he understands fringe players will be “unhappy and frustrated” at bit-part roles, he will demand a professional reaction.
“It’s not a difficult situation for me,” said Mourinho when asked how the likes of Filipe Luis or, indeed, the World Cup winner Andre Schurrle react to being omitted from his starting team.
“I’m very club, team, team, club, group. I think everybody has to be ready to sacrifice for the team, to give everything for the team, to think about the team, not to be selfish. This is the way I want a team to be.
“If they are not involved I don’t have a secret to keeping them happy. They are unhappy and frustrated, and need to be patient, but the reality is that, to be successful and work at a high level, you don’t need to be happy. All of them are professionals. The team is more important than individuals. Mark Schwarzer hasn’t played a second, but if he has to play tomorrow he would because he’s ready. He’s trained very well. We may have a secret to make them work every day at a high level, but no secret to keep them happy.”
“It’s one of the first things I say to a squad at the beginning of the season: I told them I don’t give explanations. I said they could knock on my office door. If they come to me and ask me to explain, no problem.
“But, in principle, I won’t do it on my initiative. I have to make life easy for me. If I explain to one, I have to give them all explanations [why they are not playing]. In Christmas I’d spend all my time explaining things.
“If they ask, I’ll explain. I had one who asked, knocking on my door asking why someone else was playing instead of him. I told him the other man was playing better, closed the door, goodbye. It’s the concept of helping the team. Anyone who joins us must know the squad is strong at Chelsea. If you are a goalkeeper here, you can’t come in thinking you are the only good goalkeeper. The same for the strikers.”
Mourinho claimed no members of the current Chelsea squad have made their frustrations known to the management at a lack of first-team opportunities. Indeed, he even suggested Iker Casillas had not made his frustrations known face to face after his high-profile fall-out with the manager at his previous club, Real Madrid, where the manager adopted a similar policy.
Meanwhile, David Silva has warned Chelsea they may slip up at Stoke City and is confident Manchester City will continue to apply pressure in the title race .
Silva scored twice in a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Yaya Toure adding the third in a sixth consecutive Premier League victory that drew City level with Chelsea on 39 points.
“I feel it will be a tough game for Chelsea,“ said Silva. “We know how difficult it is to play Stoke, at home and away, as they showed at the Etihad.“ City lost 1-0 at home to Mark Hughes’s side in August.
Silva added: “We will focus on ourselves and hope they drop some points. We were nine points behind Chelsea a few weeks ago so maybe we can put a bit of pressure on them.”
City’s next match is a St Stephen’s Day trip to West Brom before Burnley arrive at the Etihad two days later. Sunderland’s visit on New Year‘s Day completes a busy festive programme. “It’s the way the competition is and in years past I have played on Boxing Day and 28 December and haven‘t lost a game,” said Silva.
“The best celebration would be to win at West Brom. Christmas is better when you win so we are hoping for three points.” Guardian Service