TERRY READY FOR FORWARD PUSH
Captain John Terry believes his 90 minutes leading England on Wednesday were just what the fitness doctor ordered. Meanwhile his club manager is talking goals, goals, goals.
Terry admits the lack of pre-season time had left him feeling tired and a little vulnerable in the closing minutes against Liverpool in the Community Shield.
"I didn't feel 100 per cent in any of my pre-season games," he told Chelsea TV, "so an extra 90 minutes, which the manager made sure I went away and got, means I feel perfectly fine. No excuses coming into the season. I feel good and ready to go."
Terry will be leading a side built for change this season. Jose Mourinho has already made it plain his desire to see a flexibility in formation and the players have been drilled ahead of the Premiership restart.
"One thing the manager has made quite sure of is that in the time we have had together, we have practiced different formations," reveals Terry. "If we do go to a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3, we know exactly how to play it. Again no excuses."
"When you have two world class forwards, Shevchenko and Drogba, and also Kalou who can play through the middle, plus we have great wingers, we are in the fortunate position that we can pick and choose the formation," added assistant manager Steve Clarke, speaking on Chelsea TV's 'Big Match Countdown'.
"Sometimes systems are a little over-rated. It is about the players, how they adapt to the game in question, how they adapt to the opposition.
"Against Liverpool it wasn't a good result but there were good things in the game, good forward play. Shevchenko's goal came from direct penetration through the middle, not from the wingers. It was a great pass from Frank Lampard so there are other qualities we can bring to the team playing slightly differently."
Mourinho has declared himself happier with his stock of attacking players than at any time since joining Chelsea. He is looking for an increase goals that should follow.
"I hope we have a different way of playing," he said. "In the first season we had one top quality striker in Drogba and he was injured for a long period. We had Robben injured for a long period and Duff for the first part with his shoulder. We had no Shaun Wright-Phillips, only these wingers. Joe Cole at the time was not a winger. Nobody knew what he was, just a talented player.
"Our strength was not in that area so to win, we had to make the team strong in other areas with other qualities.
"Last season we had Crespo who is a very good player but was without continuous motivation day after day. We had Shaun but he was a bit inexperienced and maybe not ready for this level then. The team was improving in attacking terms but we kept a midfield with always two defensive midfield players.
"This year the quality is there with Drogba, Shevchenko, Robben, Joe Cole, Shaun, Kalou. We have a lot of quality in attack and we have Lampard and Ballack. We have the chance to play two attacking midfield players altogether."
The result Mourinho hopes will be an improvement up front without compromise at the back.
"The objective is to use more attacking players. It is not a secret that we are waiting to sign one or two defenders because we don't want to lose what we have had for two years - always a very strong defence. Every time we had players out, we had always an answer.
"Now the challenge is to keep the same level of defensive performance and improve in other areas."
"I prefer to win 2-0 or 3-0 than 1-0. But if you ask me if I prefer 2-0 or 6-5, I prefer to win 2-0.
"I am not changing my pragmatism. I prefer to win 1-0 than draw 4-4, but between 2-0 and 1-0, I prefer 2-0. Between 2-1 and 3-1, I prefer 3-1. To improve that but not lose the qualities that made us champions, that is the aim."
by Paul Mason