Chelsea ban banter in bid to banish the blues
Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea players have banned all banter as they attempt to arrest the club's worst start to a top-flight season for 29 years.
Senior Chelsea sources insist there have not been any crisis meetings, following the defeat at Everton that meant the Premier League champions have picked up just four points from their first five games.
A claim of a bust-up between captain John Terry and striker Diego Costa made by Talksport commentator Stan Collymore has also been denied, with a spokesman describing it as "utter nonsense."
But while manager Mourinho has so far decided against ranting and raving at his underperforming players, there has been no attempt to lighten the dark mood at Chelsea's Cobham training ground.
Mourinho and his players have mixed hard work with plenty of laughs since his return in 2013, but the jokes have now completely stopped as Chelsea desperately try to find their form.
While Mourinho and his squad are attempting to keep calm, there is a realisation that anything but a victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League tomorrow night, plus a defeat to Arsenal on Saturday, would leave them in big trouble.
Mourinho is considering making changes to his team for the visit of Maccabi, with Oscar expected to return to the starting line-up in his favoured No 10 role.
Other than Oscar, Mourinho could give Willian, Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy the opportunity to impress against Maccabi and put more pressure on Chelsea's struggling regulars.
One of Mourinho's most pressing concerns is the fact that four of his 'big' players have all failed to produce their best form at the same time.
Last season's Player of the Year Eden Hazard, right-back Branislav Ivanovic, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have failed to make the same kind of devastating impact that saw Chelsea top the table for the whole of last season.
While Mourinho is working hard on the training ground to try to solve Chelsea's problems, he is also trusting those players to be responsible to find their own form.
Midfielder Nemanja Matic admits the Chelsea players badly need a confidence boost after the Everton defeat and believes the Maccabi game is must-win for him and his team-mates.
"It's good we have another game against Maccabi," he said. "We have to win, for our own confidence and for the fans.
"Of course we are not happy. Everybody is sad because of the result. Obviously we feel bad.
"We are in a difficult moment and having four points after five games is not normal for our team. Chelsea are not used to being on runs like we are at the moment, but this is the reality."