Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho switches his focus after weekend FA Cup 'disgrace'

By Michael Calvin

Jose Mourinho insisted, with a sardonic smile, that he stopped celebrating his birthday when he reached the ripe old age of 42.

He is 52 today, and will not linger long on fripperies and formalities.

There is work to do, a final to reach, and a sense of shame to address.

The alchemy of his team, his perception of the so-called "Chelsea DNA", demands an immediate response to the "disgrace" of the type of FA Cup defeat which turns journeymen footballers into immortals.

Mourinho paid due respect to Bradford City's achievement in winning 4-2 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but once he left their dressing room, having temporarily silenced the celebrations of suitably awestruck opponents from League One, his focus shifted.

This is a potentially pivotal week. Tomorrow's delicately balanced return leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge precedes Saturday's Premier League visit from Manchester City, another of the FA Cup's stellar collection of conscientious objectors. A title and a trophy are at stake.

Suddenly, the depth of his squad is an issue.

He spread the blame about surrendering a two-goal lead to a Bradford squad assembled at a cost of £7,500, but acknowledged "the boss has more responsibilities" in such situations.

He made nine changes from the first leg against Liverpool, and was duly disappointed by his fringe players, who have cause to worry about his curt observation that "I try to be fair, but I have to analyse the game and see which players deserve to play more."

"The good thing about playing consecutive matches without many days in between is that when you lose you have to focus immediately on the next game," Mourinho said.

"There's not a lot of time to be moaning or analysing the bad one, so let's move on.

"I don't want to speak too much about this, but it is easy for you to understand now why I play almost every game with the same players. I don't make many changes. I try to keep stability in the team. Maybe now you can understand a bit better why."

He said he will not seek solace in the transfer market, citing Chelsea's strategic commitment to the tenets of Financial Fair Play, but left himself sufficient wriggle room to rid himself of the underperforming Mohamed Salah and André Schürrle, who pronounced himself unavailable on Saturday morning with a back injury.

Mourinho said: "This is Chelsea always thinking and being proud of thinking of numbers and so on. We cannot now go to the market and spend money.

"I am completely with the club. I share this idea.

"I don't think we are going to the market, unless someone makes a market with us."

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