Thursday 19 April 2018

Even the training dummies pose huge threat to Chelsea at set-pieces -- Mourinho

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

Matt Law

IT should come as no surprise that Jose Mourinho does not rate his Chelsea side among the favourites to win the Champions League, given his fears over the club's dummies.

The dummies that manager Mourinho was referring to ahead of tonight's final Group E game against Steaua Bucharest were not misfiring strikers Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba; instead, his focus is on the plastic figures used for training-ground drills, which are currently posing a significant threat to Mourinho's shaky defence.

Chelsea conceded three goals in each of their last two games, against Stoke and Sunderland, and have become vulnerable at set-pieces -- a matter of huge frustration to Mourinho, and a point he recognises will make a third personal Champions League success unlikely this season.

"Maybe you laugh, but if we trained defensive corners against the dummies at the moment, maybe one dummy would score," said Mourinho (below) with a smile. "All the rebounds are going to the opponents, so I think the rebounds will go to the dummies too.

"I analysed the Sunderland game for an hour, slow motion, going over every incident, seeing what we had done wrong, but we did nothing wrong. The ball was going here or there. So, I didn't want to train against the dummies."

Mourinho insists it would be simple for him to shut up shop at Chelsea, taking a veiled swipe at former interim manager Rafael Benítez in the process, but insisted the team would keep attacking. He must be hoping, however, that Torres, Eto'o and Ba quickly find goalscoring form.

"The easiest thing in football is to play defensively," said Mourinho. "The most difficult thing in football is to play the way we are playing. It's much more difficult to play offensive, creative, dynamic football.

"Am I going to change the style and play a more defensive style? No. Am I going to play David Luiz in front of the centre-halves? No.

"Am I going to play on the counter-attack with Fernando up front? No. We go in the same direction.

"The strikers are working very well for the team, although the number of goals in the Premier League is not the number I want or they want. This is very obvious.

"Strikers live on other things as well and all the other things they are giving us. But the number of goals they are scoring is not enough to make me happy or make them happy.

"So, we have to try and improve and wait for better times, for better days, to score more goals and to feel happier."

Despite the fact Chelsea have already qualified for the knockout stages and should progress as Group E winners, Mourinho does not expect to add to his Champions League successes at Porto and Inter Milan.

"I think our chances this season, which is my first season, are not comparable with the chances other clubs have," he said.

"I think other clubs have completely different stability, squads, and evolution of the team to be considered the favourites to win the competition.

"We reach the last 16. If we reach the quarter-finals, which is the next step, every team in the quarter-finals has a chance to win it. But in my analysis, I think we are not considered one of the favourites to win the competition.

"In my opinion, my favourites are Bayern Munich -- European champions and a top club, with the same players, a new manager and unbelievable stability. They won it last year, were in the final the year before, in a final in 2010. Fantastic stability.

"Barcelona and Real Madrid as well. These three teams are clearly, in terms of potential and responsibilities, in front. But I could say other teams are very strong.

"As I was saying, when teams arrive in the last eight, anything can happen. These teams are obviously Manchester City, Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Chelsea.

"But we are still in the first phase. In the last 16, we will find some difficult matches because some important teams will finish second in the groups." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

CHELSEA V STEAUA BUCHAREST,

LIVE, SKY SPORTS 3, 7.45

Irish Independent

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