Chelsea 2 QPR 1
Jose Mourinho, master linguist and Chelsea manager, is lost for words over why there is a miserable atmosphere around Stamford Bridge when his side is playing so well in the Premier League and in Europe.
The west London side beat Harry Redknapp’s men with an unusually average performance keeping them at the summit of the English top tier.
They are cruising in the Champions League too, with a sweet trip to Maribor on Wednesday.
They have one of the most deadly strikers in Europe in the shape of Diego Costa, and old hero Didier Drogba is back at the club and among the goals.
Their three-man midfield of summer signing Cesc Fabregas, Willian and Eden Hazard are gelling nicely and playing attractive football.
Yet the mood among supports is drab, at best.
“I think it’s getting worse,” Mourinho said, after the 2-1 triumph with goals from Oscar and Hazard securing the win.
“When comparing to my previous time, I think it’s getting worse.
“I don’t question the passion and the love — I’m nobody to question that and I know clearly that is not true.
“Chelsea fans show us their passion for this club every day, but there is a certain time at Stamford Bridge where I can clearly say we are the team to get less support in home matches.
“At this moment it’s difficult to play at home because playing here is like playing in an empty stadium,” he said.
“When we scored was when I realised ‘woah, the stadium is full. Good’.
“I was looking around and it was empty, but not in terms of people because it was obviously full.
“I will always love them and respect them, but I don’t know. I’m not here to sell books. I don’t know. I don’t know...”
It is odd to see and hear Mourinho short of answers, he is usually so verbose and meticulous but he could not quiet put his finger on why his side struggled to beat Rangers, who still occupy a place in the relegation zone.
He does, however, know exactly what his side must do going forward in their pursuit of multiple trophies this season at home and abroad.
“It was a very strange week to work and to be focused. We tried, but the individual performances weren’t there and the collective performance was not there too.
“Do QPR have some responsibility for that? I think they do. You have to give credit to a team that comes and is so well organised, from a defensive point of view, like they did.
“But I think we have to be more consistent and to play better. In the end we, deserved to win. The result could’ve been more than such a narrow result. It’s important to win when you don’t play so well as normal.”
Chelsea now have a four-point gap ahead of second-placed Southampton and although they did not perform at their best against Rangers, the fact they proved they are able to win ugly, with so many naturally gifted players, was a talking point around the ground.
In Nemanja Matic, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic, they have bruising warriors who can carry the team over the line when they face stoic and defensive sides like the one Redknapp put out at the weekend.
The strength-in-depth of Chelsea’s squad should also strike fear into their trailing Premier League rivals as the minor tweaks the Portuguese is able to make at certain times throughout the season rarely result in anything but an upturn in form.
After Maribor, Chelsea face a Liverpool team in disarray and as Mourinho juggles the wealth of strikers he has to choose from with Costa and Drogba firing when given the chance and Loic Remy soon to return from injury, while friend and rival manager Brendan Rodgers is forced to bat away questions about struggling striker Mario Balotelli.
On Saturday’s showing, Chelsea will be hot favourites, even at Anfield, especially if it gives them a chance to leave behind their groaning fans.
CHELSEA (4-2-3-1): Courtois 6; Ivanovic 8, Cahill 7, Terry 7, Filipe Luis 6; Matic 8, Fabregas 7; Willian 7 (Drogba 64- 6), Oscar 8, Hazard 7 (Ramires 90, 5); Diego Costa 7 (Schurrle 78- 6).
QPR (4-5-1): Green 7; Isla 6, Caulker 6, Dunne 6, Suk-Young 6; Vargas 7, Henry 8, Sandro 7, Fer 7 (Traore 83, 5), Hoilett 4 (Zamora 60- 6); Austin 8.
Referee: Mike Jones
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved