Pressure is all behind us

PREMIER LEAGUE:
Chelsea v West Brom
As if all of his troubled rivals didn’t know already, Jose Mourinho layered it on at Chelsea’s training ground yesterday.

His league-leading side are feeling no pressure whatsoever. That’s all on the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal.

“We don’t have pressure to lead,” Mourinho said. “The pressure is for the ones who are coming behind. I always felt the pressure when I was behind, not when I was on the top and I’ve always been competing for titles in my career. If you’re first, you think just about yourself. If you’re second, you have to think about yourselves and your opponents. it’s much easier to be first.”

Chelsea’s current circumstances, however, would seem even easier than normal. Consider this weekend. All of the attention is on Arsenal-Manchester United, who are both so badly under-performing, and all of the problems would appear to be at Manchester City. In contrast to that and what’s going on at Liverpool, let alone all of Mourinho’s controversies last season, these are oddly serene times at Chelsea. They are soaring, with 29 points from a possible 33 so far. The Portuguese could even declare Diego Costa “totally” fit, and he is set to start what would seem the formality of a home game against West Brom.

The only potential obstacle is their own complacency from such a comfortable situation. Mourinho insisted that would not be an issue. “No, no. No complacency, that’s for sure. If we lose matches, and I believe we will, it won’t be because of complacency. It will be because football is football. The team that will be champions are the side who fights for points until the last day. I know we are playing very well. I know that clearly. But it’s pure, simple mathematics. We have played 11 matches. We have 27 matches to play. We’re not even halfway through the season, so it’s too early. Too early. The thing that gives us confidence is the results we are getting are not occasional. They’re because we’re playing well. We believe that, when we lose points, the next game we are going to play well again. Against Maribor we lost two points, but in the next game we were not in crisis. We were at Liverpool to play well again. I don’t believe there’ll be a chelsea crisis in the season. I believe Chelsea will lose points and matches, but not in a crisis of results.”

They also have a fully-fit Costa for the first time, after Spanish manager Vicente Del Bosque agreed to leave the striker out of his squad for the international break. There is, however, another danger with Costa. He is one yellow card away from suspension in the Premier League, but Mourinho doesn’t want to curb the 25-year-old’s game.

“I just want him to get a proper yellow card. A yellow card the consequence of a football action where he has to get a card. I don’t want a stupid yellow card. When he does, he does. I have [Didier] Drogba and [Loic] Remy.”

“At this moment he behaves very well, no issues with him. He improved a lot since he arrived. He’s a competitive guy, but no problems at all. At this moment, the referees understand exactly that. He’s getting what he deserves.”

Another factor in Chelsea’s fine season has been their fitness. The stats show they have fewer injuries than everyone else, much fewer than Man United and Arsenal.

“There are certain types of injuries that you can do nothing about,” Mourinho acknowledged. “You can do things to a certain level, but even so there are factors which can kill your strategy, especially when the players go to the national teams and the situation changes because the circumstances and habits change. That’s not because they do things badly. The human body is used to habits. For example, my players on the recovery day never does bicycles. I have one player in the national team whose recovery session was on a bike. Is that wrong? I’m not saying it is. But my player never does that. When you interrupt a certain routine, the risk is higher. It’s not fair to criticise any club or manager. My medical department works well at the prevention level.”

That seems the case for his entire squad right now.

Mourinho plays down talk of Cech departure

By Simon Peach

Petr Cech’s Chelsea future is the subject of mounting speculation, but Jose Mourinho insists no offers have been tabled for the long-serving goalkeeper.

The 32-year-old has been integral to the west Londoners’ many successes since arriving as a relative unknown from Rennes a decade ago.

However, this season Cech has been displaced by Thibaut Courtois and has been regularly linked with a January departure.

Arsenal, AC Milan, Roma and Real Madrid have all been mentioned as potential destinations for the Czech, but the interest of such clubs surprises Mourinho.

“Are you telling me that or asking me that?” the Chelsea manager said. “On which Mickey Mouse website? On which Mickey Mouse blog?

“News is born every day, every minute, every second.

“Some websites, some blogs, we don’t even know where we get the news.

“I promise you what I tell you is the truth. On my desk, normally from my board’s desk, the information arrives. On my desk I have zero.

Cech recently expressed his frustration at having dropped down the pecking order at Chelsea, telling Czech radio a move could be on the cards if he continued to be benched.

They are comments that Mourinho says the goalkeeper, reportedly available for just £7million, has not made to him.

“No, I believe in what is happening at this moment,” the Portuguese said. “In this moment, Petr Cech is our goalkeeper and has a contract for two more years.

“He’s a fantastic professional, always puts himself available for the team and the team’s interests.

“Not once has Petr Cech knocked on my door to inform me of his desire to accept some proposal. This is my truth. Nothing more I can say.”


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