Mourinho: Just what we needed

Jose Mourinho felt our fourth friendly of pre-season was the perfect contest for his side as they continue to build towards full fitness and our opening game of the Premier League campaign against Burnley.

Both Diego Costa and Kurt Zouma opened their accounts for the club against NK Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia, turning the game on its head after we trailed 1-0 at the break.

With regards to fitness levels, the home side were ahead of the Blues, but Mourinho was pleased with how his players responded to the test.

‘We are training a minimum of three hours every day at a high intensity, the players are tired but we need to compete even in these tough conditions,’ he explained. ‘They gave us difficulties, they were aggressive, fast. They had ambition, young players who tried to impress. We don’t need matches where we win 5-0 or 8-0, we need difficult matches.

‘It was good for us because we try to play against teams in better condition than we are. We played against a team in Austria (WAC RZ Pellets) who have already started their league and today we played against Olimpija, who have been training for a long time.

‘Winning or not winning is not the most important thing at this moment, the most important thing is to compete, so I thank the coach and players from Olimpija because they gave us the type of match we needed.’

It was from a brilliant Cesc Fabregas pass that Costa equalised early in the second half, with the striker showing equal quality with the manner in which the opportunity was dispatched.

Mourinho, who was also able to hand Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta their first minutes of pre-season, believes the two new signings, both withdrawn during the second half, will have benefited from their efforts.

‘Obviously it’s nice for a striker to score in his first game,’ he said. ‘It’s nice, no more than that. For Cesc, it’s also important to understand the team, which he is doing step by step.

‘It’s still important for us to have all our players back. We don’t have Schurrle, Oscar, Willian or Hazard and they are the four players we build the game around. At the same time they need a holiday, but the players who are here on this training camp are working very hard.’

There is no doubt the young players who have been part of the trip to date have impressed, not only with their performances during matches, but also their attitude and application in training.

Mourinho expects to bring a couple of them into the first-team squad for the coming campaign, and believes the future is bright.

‘We are going to have (Andreas) Christensen and (Nathan) Ake, who are coming from the Academy,’ he said. ‘We are going to have training with us, but also playing for the Under-21 team, (Dominic) Solanke, (Jeremie) Boga and (Izzy) Brown.

‘The other ones who are a bit older, 20 or 21, we feel they need to compete against men in a different league, people like Bamford, Swift, Chalobah. They are ready to go to other clubs and have a good loan.

‘What we are trying to do, and we believe we are going to be successful, is in a few years’ time, when they are between 20 and 23, we will have them back at the right moment and in the first-team squad.’