Improve your attitude or I'll play the kids - Jose Mourinho in warning to Chelsea stars
Jose Mourinho has told his under-performing Chelsea players that they have an attitude problem which, if not addressed, will force him to replace them with youngsters for the rest of the season.
The Chelsea manager delivered the damning verdict on the ambition of his squad who, after strolling to the Premier League title last season, have taken just eight points from seven games this term.
The Portuguese diagnosed a damaging "attitude perspective of some individuals" and challenged them to prove that they are "serial champions" - as he is - rather than happy to sit on their laurels.
Chelsea are away to Porto in the Champions League tonight, but the main focus is a run of league form that was, before their last two games, the worst of Mourinho's career.
Speaking very frankly about their poor start, he put their inconsistency down to a lack of application from key players.
"At the moment what is happening with us is not that we are not performing, but we are not performing in a continuous way - that is our problem," said Mourinho.
"The matches in which we performed consistently with a consistent attitude were the matches that we won. We don't need to learn how to play football; we need to learn how to be consistent again."
Assessing the cause of Chelsea's poor form, Mourinho made it very clear that he thought the issue was mental, and not a hangover from their delayed start to pre-season.
"Physically there is no problem, as we finished against (Manchester) City, Swansea with 10 men, and Newcastle with our team on top of the opponent," he said.
"We have no problem physically. Tactically it is the same. Clearly it's an attitude perspective of some individuals. And when you have individuals with that unstable attitude in terms of motivation, desire and commitment, you will pay."
Although Mourinho said that he was "generally happy and positive", he added that he "wants more from some players", as he hopes they embrace the mentality he requires from them.
"I look for consistency," he said. "If not, we become a Newcastle. Win today, draw tomorrow, three points here, one point there.
"When you want to be a big team and you want to win, you have to be consistent in your attitude."
Mourinho has won eight league championships in his career, retaining the title in Portugal, England and Italy. He challenged his players to show the same ambition in seeking to win the league again.
"There are two sorts of champions," he added. "There are champions who win something, and there are lots of them. But there are the other champions who, during their career, win one, two, three, four, five, 10 or 20 titles. In this club we have 25 champions from last season.
"But serial champions in this squad - how many do we have? John Terry, John Obi Mikel, Branislav Ivanovic are serial champions. Almost every season they have something in the pocket. But how many serial champions do we have? That's the point."
The implication was clear: Mourinho fears not enough of his young players share the mentality of the manager, Terry and Ivanovic.
"Last season we were champions, but the point for me is are we serial champions?
"Of course, it is very difficult to win the Premier League every season, but you can be a serial champion in your approach and your attitude. Mentally I can say I am a serial champion.
"I can be five or 10 years without winning a title, but I will still be a serial champion in my approach and my attitude. This is the problem we have at this moment. We have champions, but not serial champions."
Mourinho warned his players that if they fall out of contention for the Premier League, he will have no hesitation in dropping them for the next generation of young players.
"At this moment we are in an open situation," he said. "It's difficult to win the Premier League, but possible. It's difficult to win the Champions League, but possible. It's difficult to win the cups, but possible. We're still in an open situation.
"I explained to the players that when the situation is open I have to do both things - to try and prepare the kids for their future and at the same time to try and bring the best out of the other players, with more stability and experience.
"If the season goes in one direction that it becomes closed, and we can't win, I will go just with the kids.
"It makes no sense when you have nothing to win to play the older players. I'll play the players we're waiting for instead. I can arrive in a moment where I will look to the kids and say, 'let's go, non-stop'. I am ruthless, but at the moment everything is open."
© Independent News Service.
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