Mourinho: Hard to choose

Club legends leaving, fresh faces arriving - in many respects, it has been a summer of momentous change at Stamford Bridge.

But as he assesses Chelsea’s work in the close season and the constitution of his squad two weeks before our opening league game, Jose Mourinho is delighted he will continue to be able to have the services of his skipper to call upon.

John Terry signed a new one-year deal the day after our final game of last term, at Cardiff. He is preparing to captain his side for an 11th consecutive season, and Mourinho is expecting the same level of performances he has given over those trophy-laden years.

‘The contract John got was only based on performances, not his status or his captaincy, just performances,’ explained Mourinho.

‘We think this way of [giving out] one-year contracts is a very good way of dealing with these kinds of players. John knows me and he knows the club. He just has to be worried about performing.

‘I don’t remember a better season than the one he just had. That’s the point. Last season he had one minor injury. He played basically every match, and at a very high level. When you have a player able to perform during the whole season it’s because you believe that the next season he can do the same.’

It is Terry’s 20th year at Chelsea Football Club. Cesc Fabregas, not short of Premier League experience himself, is at the other end of the spectrum.

The Spaniard begins his maiden campaign in SW6 with his manager, his team-mates and of course his new supporters excited to see him playing in Chelsea’s midfield.

Mourinho provided a little more detail on the thinking behind his acquisition, and what he can offer his team.

‘I always thought Fabregas would be a Barcelona player because he is so good,’ Mourinho said. ‘Being Catalan and with players like Xavi coming to the end of their career I always thought he would stay, but it was him.

‘He was so strong about his decision to come back to English football, a bit like me. He was in a big club and he wanted to be back. When we had the information that he had decided to come back to London, we knew he was the player we wanted.

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‘He can play as a no.8 or no.10,’ continued Mourinho. ‘If he plays as a no.10 he can score goals. If he plays as a no.8 he can give stability to the team.

‘I see him everywhere because he can play everywhere. His best quality is the speed with which he analyses the game and executes it. It’s difficult for him to lose the ball or make the wrong decision. He can accelerate or reduce the intensity of the game. He’s very intelligent. We need his football brain in our team.

‘We have Matic and Mikel as the anchormen. They are positional players. We have Oscar and Willian, no.10s, if you can say that. Fabregas is both. He is a little bit like the missing piece of our engine. We are so happy and all the players are too – they have a fantastic feeling with him because of how quickly he thinks on the pitch.’

There is no hiding Mourinho’s satisfaction with regards to the strength in depth of his squad. Naturally, though, that means tough decisions will have to be made.

This includes selection headaches at either end of the pitch, something the manager addressed first considering who he will pick to start in goal.

‘It was logical that Courtois had to be back,’ Mourinho stressed. ‘It would be nonsense to have such a fantastic young goalkeeper and not to have him back. That decision was an easy one.  

'If I have to make a decision for Cech to be on the bench, or for Courtois to be on the bench, it's no problem for me. I will do what I think is the best.

‘Up front we need three strikers and we have three strikers. Torres will not leave. Their different qualities are very important.

‘We do need one player to leave because we have 18 foreign players and you can only have 17. We must make that decision between me, the board and the player involved.

‘It will be a tough one because our squad is stable. It has the right numbers.’