The weekly press conference was held yesterday and here’s covering in entirety, what The Blues boss had to tell us ahead of today’s late-evening fixture, as we make a trip to The Stadium of Light.
Q) Hello Jose. Tell us about your squad selection for the weekend. Do we have any injury issues, or is everyone fit and fine?
A) No. Just the kid Ake, but we know that already.
Q) Why do we seem to have a lack of injuries when compared to other top teams? They are truly struggling to keep a hold of their squad. Is it good fortune, the medical team or does it just come down to the players?
A) It’s difficult to say, but we also struggle (smiles) to keep them fit. We work hard to try the best, but I think it’s a bit of everything; include luck, bad luck…
Q) It really is a busy time of year. To go into December with virtually a fully fit squad is truly amazing.
A) Well, in football, things can change very quickly. We are not free to have problems like the others. We are not in conditions to say we don’t care about a certain competition, or say that one match is not as important as the other. For us, every competition is important; every match is important. So we don’t trust people, but instead we try to play with our best team. We do need a bit of luck as well.
Q) Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard have been included on the shortlist of midfielders for FIFA’s Team of the Year. Is it good to get that kind of recognition?
A) To be fair I think these kind of trophies are not good for football. That’s why I don’t care about it. Sometimes it looks like we are looking for stars; we are looking for people “more important” than other people. This is not the culture we want in this club. So I don’t care about it. But if they are there as a consequence of the good work the team is doing; if they feel THAT, then okay, it’s good. It’s good for the players. But I think the mentality here is not to be associated with that; even less being obsessed with that. Furthermore, when I see these players, Hazard and Fabregas, I really don’t think that they don’t think about it. They think about the team, about playing well and trying to win matches.
Q) Cesc Fabregas says that he feels he’s playing some of the best football of his career. Do you think that is true? Do you think you have other players that are playing the best football of their career right now?
A) I don’t want to speak about their careers in other clubs, among other players, playing under other managers. I think it is my job to do that. If Fabregas, a player who spent all his career at big clubs like Arsenal and Barcelona, says that, it means something for us. But even if he doesn’t say that, you see the way he’s playing and you feel happy. We don’t need to say that, we don’t need words to look at him and to see happiness in the way he plays; in his body language on the pitch. And I think that basically, this is the way everybody is feeling. My players are confident, they are happy to play the way they are playing and I think that’s what’s important.
Q) Is Diego Costa the best striker in the Premier League right now?
A) Again, (smiles) I’m not in favour of these kind of situations. In some cases it looks like we are doing political campaign, you know? It seems like you open televisions, radios, newspapers, and, I have to say that in England we are the “soft ones” in that campaign. Because in other countries it looks like Obama is fighting against the White House, and I don’t think that’s the right way! Is Diego Costa a top striker? Yes, he is. But is Aguero bad? Or even Sanchez or Van Persie for that matter? This is not an approach I am interested with.
Q) You were here in your first spell as a Chelsea manager. There were some players that you referred to as being “untouchables”. Do you have untouchables in this squad?
A) You know, to be fair, my “untouchables” right now are the ones who are not playing. Because they are responsible for a lot that we are doing. I don’t have one single player at this moment, from the ones that have not been playing a lot; from the ones don’t feel as being first choice. I don’t have one single player who is not training very hard, who is not behaving very well, who are not a part of the group that is not playing ten minutes, one minute or even going to the stands. Life is easy when you are always playing, always winning and feeling high in self esteem. Life is difficult when a player is not playing. Because a player is born to play. And the guys in my squad are, for me, absolutely fantastic and I am so happy with them.
Q) You are 6 points clear of Southampton, 8 points clear of Man City, 15 clear of Arsenal. I think a bookmaker has already played out on Chelsea winning the title. Pundits are also saying that it’s Chelsea’s title to lose. Is complacency the real danger?
A) No chance. No, that’s the only reason we have all the other risks that belong to football. We have the risk of a bad period, we have the risk of injuries, unlucky matches, other teams evolving and becoming stronger and stronger through the season. We have all these risks. Complacency is not a risk we have. Because complacency is not the profile of this group at this moment. We were winning 5-0 against Schalke at the 88th minute, and Eden Hazard went to defend. They (Chelsea players) change. They are clearly evolving so much as a group.
Q) Is there more to come from this group?
A) Yes! I think so, I hope so. I think there is much more to come. There are a lot of young players. I have two more years left in my contract. They want to stay in the club, I want to stay in the club. We have a lot ahead of us. So this team has all the conditions to be better. But, all the other factors that I told you, that can affect us negatively, EXCEPT complacency! All these factors are a part of the game and I am so experienced in this life that I am not over the moon when I win, nor am I in hell when I lose. I am balanced. And I think the players follow me on this. We are very stable.
Q) Is there a factor at all that might affect us negatively for the Sunderland game?
A) I hope not. I believe not. I only believe that it is a very difficult game, with all the dangers that you have in Premier League matches. But what happened last year, was an isolated situation. I go to this game worried about many things, but not about what happened last season.
Q) At the time you spoke about injustice about the decisions that were made, is this the team that would take the injustices out of the equation to win a match no matter what happens?
A) That match was impossible to win. But again, we move on. We think about improving ourselves where we can. That’s what we did, without being affected by other factors. I think it is clear that we are in the evolution process. We are happy with the way we are doing things.
Q) You spoke about the culture of the team and how important it is that the team performs as a single unit. Does that make the link to Lionel Messi even more surprising? What was your reaction to the rumor that Chelsea were linked to him?
A) My reaction is that your world changed so much, that our world has also changed. And I think at this moment, it is so easy to have non-truths circulating. So easy that some people publish news without confirming; they speak about rumors like they speak about undoubted truths, and obviously, it is not true.
Q) It’s fascinating to watch how you’ve managed to keep your team at such a terrific level without making too many changes. Could you give us an idea about how you’ve done your work this week? You were in Germany on Tuesday, and you’re going to the north of England in an hour or two. How much time have the players done some work and how much work have you given them in this short gap?
A) Their rest is very much needed. They can be with us for 2-3 hours a day, and 20-22 hours they are not with us. It’s up to them. I think it is more important what they do when they are not with us. It is their responsibility. We can work here, put everything at their disposal, we are here all day if they want to be here all day. We have lots of people who work for them; in prevention, in recovery, in different areas. But at the end of the day it is up to them. We don’t know what happens, what they do in those long hours when they are not with us. But when I see them the next day, I can guess what they did. Because whenever they come here, they are better today than they were yesterday, better tomorrow then they were today, and so on. When I think that their recovery process is fluid, it’s because they are doing very well. So it is up to them. It is probably because of this, that the club is preparing a little Christmas party for them and their families!
Q) Jose, some years ago we were very close to signing Aguero in Carlo Ancelotti’s reign. If he’d been here when you arrived, would you still have wanted to sign Diego Costa?
A) I think it’s a good question, but I don’t think these are the kind of situations that are not fair to us. Because all of us, and I don’t call it mistakes, I call it part of the job, you know? I had the chance to sign some of the players that I didn’t and they all became very very good. Everyone is the same; they can say no, and that all decisions are the best, but that is not true. Every one of us make some mistakes of having gold in our hands and letting it slip through our fingers just like that. All of us make those mistakes.
Hmm, that has been a lot to digest from the manager! It was a truly great conference, and Jose’s humility and love for The Blues shines through every aspect of what he said. Hoping for more amazing performances from Chelsea in the busy month of December. KTBFFH!
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt