José Mourinho has spoken in his press conference after his side overcame struggling Aston Villa 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking to the official Chelsea website, the 52-year old said that there were still improvements to be made despite hitting the ground running after the international break:
“It was not a brilliant performance, but it was solid performance,” Mourinho said.
“In football you are brilliant when the confidence levels are very high and the players are able to put all their qualities on the pitch. When the confidence is a bit low, the results are not good and they feel the pressure of the moment, the quality goes down a little bit, and you have to bring other kinds of ingredients to the game.
“They did it in an amazing way.
“Defensively [we had] great discipline and great effort, and there was great balance in the team. They had a couple of moments in the first half but apart from that everything was under control.
“That is what we need because at the moment it’s difficult to be brilliant. I would never expect to come from a bad period direct into a brilliant game. I was expecting this kind of answer, the answer was there and the result is the most important thing at the moment.”
Mourinho was forced to defend his decision not to start midfielder Eden Hazard, who didn’t start a league game for the first time since April 2014. However, the Blues boos said he had not spoken to the Belgian about his decision.
“I left Hazard out because we are conceding lots of goals.
“We need to defend better. We need our midfield players to be just worried about the central area of the pitch, not to be worried about compensating for the left side or the right side.
“Playing with Pedro and Willian, the midfield players don’t have to look to the left or the right. They did amazing defensive work on very good offensive players, Hutton and Richardson, and later Amavi. They allowed the midfield players to be very comfortable, and to have performances like Ramires and Fabregas had, totally controlling the centre of the pitch.
‘It was just a tactical decision leaving super quality on the bench but bringing tactical discipline and hoping that the team could be solid. I continue in that way or he [Hazard] comes in our direction and tries to replicate the same work Willian or Pedro did.
“I told the players this is not the moment to think about themselves, to moan, to try to be selfish in their approach – this is the moment for the team, just the team and nothing else.
“I asked them exactly that: to look at the picture in a different way to a normal situation, to look at a picture where I have to try to make decisions to bring results back, and when the results are back and we have better stability in our confidence levels, then go back to what you are.”
Blues striker Diego Costa scored the first and created the second on his return from his three match ban, and Mourinho has praised the Spaniard for the effect he had on the game:
“It’s good. He was very strong.
“Against Arsenal he was very good, then we lost him for three matches and I knew he would be good. I cannot say goals but the way he was working in the past two weeks with us I knew clearly he would bring something positive for us.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek started his first game for Chelsea this season, but was taken off at half time as Mourinho looked to seal the win. In the press conference, the Blues boss was again made to justify his team decisions:
“I wanted more solidity. He is brilliant with the ball. He doesn’t look like a 19-year-old boy with the ball; he looks a solid, stable, mature player. He is fantastic in his vision and the way he analyses the game and the decisions he makes in the game.
“But without the ball we cannot compare him tactically with the others, and in this moment, again, it was one decision in favour of stability and control.”
Despite Chelsea securing a vitally important three points, Mourinho said that it is yet to be seen if the result signals a return to form:
“I don’t know, but I know today we were able to find these ingredients that we need especially when we are not playing at a top level.
“When you are not playing at a top level, and on top of that you have no concentration, you make defensive mistakes, you don’t defend well, you lose the ball and you don’t have 10 players fighting to recover it as soon as possible, you cannot win.
“So let’s try to keep this mentality, let’s try to keep this tactical attitude, and at the same time, with a little bit more happiness and confidence, go in the direction of what we are.”