Jose Mourinho felt his team displayed different types of qualities which produced a solid performance and three points against Aston Villa.
The Portuguese, who earned his 200th win as Chelsea manager, acknowledged his players were never likely to be on top form because of recent results but he was completely satisfied with the effort and discipline on display as we picked up our third league win of the season.
Diego Costa opened the scoring after Willian pounced on a Villa mistake, and the striker was heavily responsible for our second goal, too, seeing his shot deflected into the net off Alan Hutton soon after the interval. Mourinho gave his assessment afterwards…
‘It was not a brilliant performance, but it was a solid performance,’ the manager 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.’
Eden Hazard didn’t start a league game for us for the first time since April 2014
‘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. Willian and Pedro 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.’
Mourinho said he had not spoken to Hazard about why he did not start
‘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.’
Diego Costa scored the first and created the second
‘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.’
Mourinho explained why he took Ruben Loftus-Cheek off at half-time
‘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.’
Mourinho was asked if he felt the result and the performance signified 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.’