Champions League: Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho threatens to axe his top stars
Jose Mourinho has told his under-performing Chelsea players that they have an attitude problem which, if not addressed, will force him to replace them with youngsters for the rest of the season.
The Chelsea manager delivered the damning verdict on the ambition of his squad who, after strolling to the Premier League title last year, have taken eight points from seven games this season.
The Portuguese diagnosed a damaging "attitude perspective of some individuals" and challenged them to prove that they are "serial champions" - as he is - rather than being happy to rest on their laurels.
Chelsea are away at Porto in the Champions League this evening but the main focus is a run of league form that was, before their last two games, the worst of Mourinho's career. Speaking very frankly about their poor start, he put their inconsistency down to a lack of application from key players.
"What is happening with us at the moment is not that we are not performing," Mourinho said yesterday morning. "We are not performing in a continuous way, that is our problem.
"The matches we performed consistently in with a consistent attitude were the matches that we won. We don't need to learn how to play football, we need to learn how to be consistent again."
Assessing the cause of Chelsea's poor form, Mourinho made it very clear he thought the issue was mental, and not a hangover from their delayed start to pre-season.
"Physically there is no problem, as we finished against (Manchester) City and Swansea with 10 men, and Newcastle with our team on top of the opponent," he said.
"Tactically it is the same. Clearly it's an attitude perspective of some individuals. And when you have individuals with that unstable attitude in terms of motivation, desire and commitment, you will pay."
Although Mourinho said that he was "generally happy and positive", he added that he "wants more from some players" as he hopes they embrace the mentality he requires from them.
"I look for consistency," he said. "If not we become a Newcastle. Win today, draw tomorrow, three points here, one point there. When you want to be a big team and you want to win, you have to be consistent in your attitude."
Mourinho has won eight league championships in his career, retaining the title in Portugal, England and Italy.
He challenged his players to show the same ambition in seeking to win the league again.
"There are two sorts of champions," Mourinho said. "There are champions who win something, and there are lots of them. But there are the other champions who, during their career, win two, three, four, five, 10 or 20 titles. In this club we have 25 champions from last year.
"But serial champions in this squad, how many do we have? John Terry, John Obi Mikel, Branislav Ivanovic are serial champions. Almost every season they have something in the pocket. But how many serial champions do we have? That's the point."
The implication was clear: Mourinho fears not enough of his young players share the mentality of the manager, Terry and Ivanovic.
"Last year we were champions, but the point for me is are we serial champions? Of course it is very difficult to win the Premier League every season, but you can be a serial champion in your approach and your attitude. Mentally I can say I am a serial champion," he said.
"I can go five or 10 years without winning a title, but I will still be a serial champion in my approach and my attitude. This is the problem we have at this moment. We have champions, but not serial champions."
Mourinho warned his players that if they fall out of contention for the Premier League, he will have no hesitation in dropping them for the next generation of young players.
"At this moment we are in an open situation," he said. "It's difficult to win the Premier League, but possible. It's difficult to win the Champions League, but possible. It's difficult to win the cups, but possible. We're still in an open situation.
"I explained to the players that when the situation is open I have to do both things - to try and prepare the kids for their future and at the same time to try and bring the best out of the other players, with more stability and experience.
"If the season goes in one direction that it becomes closed, I will go just with the kids. It makes no sense to play the older players when you have nothing to win.
"I'll play the players we're waiting for instead. I'll look to the kids and say, 'let's go, non-stop'. I'm ruthless, but at the moment everything is open."