Saturday 18 November 2017

Mourinho expects Blues to cut it in 'brave' time of year

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Jason Burt

WITH his newly-shorn GI Jose haircut, Jose Mourinho last night declared that Chelsea are already entering the hard yards of the season "when only the brave survive".

Nine matches in December, after tonight's Champions League tie away to Basel, will define Chelsea's campaign and test their squad according to their manager, who explained why he had, once more, cropped his hair so short.

It was not, this time, a "going to war" look -- he first used that phrase in the summer of 2006 before his tenure at Chelsea began to unravel first time round -- but it is a cut he has often sported coming into the business end of the season, provoking a field day for cod-psychologists.

It is not a cut, however, that he usually adopts this early in a campaign, especially not when he has to fly to Switzerland for a game in sub-zero temperatures.

"It's a period I like," Mourinho said. "It's a period where I think the squad can play a role, not just the team. Only the bravest can survive because it's hard.

"We go into the Christmas period as a special group with a special mentality, enjoying the situation and forgetting we don't have a Christmas like the Spanish, Italian and German players. We have the pleasure of playing a period that's only for the braves. I enjoyed it when I was in England, and I missed it when I was in Spain and Italy.

"Now I'm back, I want to enjoy it, I want the players to enjoy it. We need a special mentality to cope with that situation."

Victory tonight would guarantee Chelsea top place in Group E with a game still to play, meaning they would have only eight meaningful matches in December.

Fernando Torres, who is likely to play tonight after recovering from a groin injury, played a role in that new Mourinho look, with the manager revealing he had borrowed the striker's clippers at Chelsea's training ground for a DIY trim.

"At the training ground. I decided to do it. I asked Fernando to give me his machine, and I did it myself in front of the mirror. It's nice and cheap," Mourinho said.

Still, even though it is time for the "braves", Mourinho had to pluck up the courage to present his new, old look to his wife, Tami, by warning her in advance.

What was her reaction? "Mrs Mourinho? I sent a picture before I arrived home to see if I could go in," Mourinho said. "Yes, no problem (she likes it)."

Although it was all good knock-about stuff, there was, as ever, a hard edge as well with Mourinho, who reminded Juan Mata that, hard as he is working, he faces a battle to get in the team ahead of either Eden Hazard or Oscar. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

BASEL V CHELSEA,

LIVE, SKY SPORTS 2, 7.45

Irish Independent

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