Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa can make Jose Mourinho's Chelsea title-winning team

Having a laugh: Chelsea's new recruits Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa share a joke ahead of the new season
Having a laugh: Chelsea's new recruits Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa share a joke ahead of the new season
Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho believes Chelsea must learn how to unpick opponents who throw 10 men behind the ball or miss out on the Premier League title again. The Chelsea manager admits his Stamford Bridge side fell short in last term's Barclays Premier League title race due to a lack of final-third quality.

Mourinho believes new recruits Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa will help solve that problem, with Chelsea opening their league campaign at Burnley tonight.

The Portuguese boss admitted Chelsea have worked extensively in pre-season on unpicking opponents who set out solely to nullify his side's threats.

"We need more quality in our football," said Mourinho.

"When you have matches with space and time it's much easier to play football.

"When you don't have space and time because a lot of football is based around tactics and systems: in a very simple way, everything depends on space and time.

"And when you don't have space and time to play, you need more quality.

"We are working exactly in that direction.

"We need more quality in our game, and we are working on that.

"We have worked on exactly that in training, expecting a team to be defensive and try to close every road to goal."

Last term, Mourinho's first season in his second managerial tenure at Chelsea, ended with no silverware.

Defeats like the galling 1-0 home reverse to relegation-battling Sunderland left Mourinho defending his top stars at the time.

Now, though, the Chelsea manager has conceded only sharper build-up play will allow the west London club to break their trophy deadlock.

MourinhoThe Chelsea manager admits his Stamford Bridge side fell short in last term's Barclays Premier League title race due to a lack of final-third quality.

 has admitted he will face a big test to keep both goalkeeping rivals Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois happy this term – but did not foresee similar issues in the Blues midfield.

The Chelsea boss believes Fabregas will offer a new dimension in midfield play this term to complement a host of box-to-box runners.

The former Real Madrid and Inter manager said none of his midfielders will command automatic selection – but neither will any be out in the cold.

"That is not so tough, because we play 60 matches in a season," he said.

"In this first two weeks it's one match a week, but after that starts the cups, the Champions League and the national team also.

"So you have to adapt, nobody will feel they are first or second choice.

"We have Mikel, Matic, Ramires, Fabregas, Schurrle, Van Ginkel: so everyone will play, everyone will feel useful, important.

"On the field we have a very good balance."

Mourinho has now also admitted he was "blind" to spurn the chance to sign a teenage Costa for Chelsea eight years ago.

The Blues boss revealed he ran the rule over the 18-year-old Costa when he emerged at Portuguese club Braga in 2006, during his first managerial stint in west London.

Mourinho hailed his £32m summer signing from Atletico as the "humble" striker from "behind the sunset" who can become this term's outstanding Barclays Premier League star.

"To be fair when he was in Portugal I had a look at him, so everybody was blind, including myself," said Mourinho of the Brazil-born Spain forward.

"He can be (the star of the Premier League), yes I know.

"He's still the guy that comes from a very small village behind the sunset.

"His village is behind the sunset – you want to arrive there, and it's difficult to arrive. He's still that guy.

"He's still that guy, the way he behaves, the way he acts, the way he interacts, he's still that naive, pure, simple, humble guy."

New boy Costa can only speak "10 words in English", but Mourinho said his low-key personality and warm body language have already endeared him to his team-mates.

"He's such a communicator, he's such a group guy: he's such a happy man that despite not speaking more than 10 words in English, he still speaks with everybody," said Mourinho.

"He can have a conversation and interact with everybody, and he doesn't understand one single word the person is saying.

"But just because of his gestures and body language, and happiness and so on, everybody likes the guy so much.

"And he comes from Atletico, he comes here, and adapts quickly, he's the happy guy in the group, he's not shy: it's fantastic.

"I say to him every time, 'do you need me to explain something in Portuguese', and he shrugs and says, 'I understand everything'.

"I think football-wise yes (he understands), especially in football meetings and videos, and my comments and so on.

"I think he goes in the direction I want him to go: he's a clever guy."

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