Jose Mourinho conceded that his Chelsea team lacked “maturity and personality” and had got the “shakes a little bit” in the course of their shock 2-1 home defeat to Basel in the club's first group stage match of the Champions League.
It was the first home group stage defeat for Chelsea in almost ten years and only the second of the Roman Abramovich era. The Russian owner was at Stamford Bridge to watch the game and went down the tunnel, presumably to the dressing room, within minutes of the final whistle.
For Mourinho, it was just the third time in his entire managerial career that he has lost at this stage of the competition. He said: “Of course [it hurts], of course. But I think the team probably is not a team with such maturity and personality to face the difficult moments of the game. Against Everton [on Saturday, a 1-0 defeat] we played amazingly and they scored in the second half and, after that, you could feel the team was struggling despite dominating the game.
"This was a bit the same. The team started accepting the responsibility of playing, addressing the opponent and trying to create, and when the first negative moment arrived - the equaliser - the team shakes a little bit. But that's work. The only thing you can do is work. We go home very sad, the supporters go home very sad, but tomorrow we have to go to training and prepare for the next match.
“It's the only way I know in football: work hard, believe in what you do, believe in each other, be critical inside to try and resolve things inside our group, stick together, keep together, and try and get a result against Fulham [on Saturday] that wakes up the team for a smile and, in the next match in the Champions League, we have to try and recover the three points we lost.”
Mourinho's side have scored just three goals in their last four games and he conceded that his strikers, from among whom Samuel Eto'o started, lacked sharpness tonight. He said that Eto'o had played too long in a league, the Russian Premier League, for too long and “not for the right reasons” - presumably financial.
“When we lose, I don't speak about players. I don't speak about individuals. I speak about my responsibility and I'm happy with the three strikers for the rest of the season. I'm happy. The players are the players, they're good professionals, they're trying their best every match. I can't complain about any of the three. They try and give their best whenever they are on the pitch.
"Samuel, maybe, lacks sharpness but this is something that doesn't surprise me because, when you are two and a half years at a place that doesn't motivate you, off the main stage, maybe you are there not for the right reasons and you lose the hunger, the appetite.
“Now he has that back, that motivation: he wants to succeed and play and is happy to be at this level. He's participating a lot at Everton and today in the collective game. The sharpness and technique to score, maybe we have to wait. But he's a great player.”