| 18.5°C Dublin

Frustrated Mourinho damns players for being 'mentally weak'


Jose Mourinho believes some of his players couldn't stand up to the mental pressures at Chelsea Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Jose Mourinho believes some of his players couldn't stand up to the mental pressures at Chelsea Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Jose Mourinho believes some of his players couldn't stand up to the mental pressures at Chelsea Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Jose Mourinho's damning final verdict on some of the Chelsea players who cost him his job is that they are "mentally weak".

That does not include goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who Mourinho will try to sign again if he goes to one of Europe's top clubs.

Close allies of Mourinho claim he thinks Chelsea's demise was down to players not being able to cope with the pressure.

Mourinho felt the biggest problem was the mentality of his under-performing stars such as Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Oscar and Branislav Ivanovic, who failed to cope with their loss of form.

Despite technical director Michael Emenalo's claim that there was "palpable discord" between Mourinho and his players, the Portuguese has already received public messages of goodwill from captain John Terry, Cesc Fabregas and Cesar Azpilicueta.

Mourinho holds no grudges against the players, but feels this disastrous campaign has highlighted a mental weakness among some of the squad.

Hazard effectively substituted himself against Leicester City with a dead leg and Mourinho would have left the Belgian out of his side for today's Premier League game against Sunderland, with doubts lingering over the forward's fitness.

Mourinho had picked his team to face Sunderland in the hours before his dismissal and Oscar was also due to be dropped. The Brazilian's inconsistent form had been a constant source of frustration to his former manager.

Costa was Mourinho's ultimate warrior last season, but, despite continuing to get himself in trouble on the pitch, the striker has suffered a crisis of confidence in front of goal and has only scored seven times since January.

The relationship between Costa and Mourinho gradually soured and the manager claimed on Monday night that the Spain international was so low on belief that he was running away from the goal.

Costa had also reacted badly to being dropped, tossing a bib in Mourinho's direction at White Hart Lane and heading straight for the team bus after the final whistle against Tottenham Hotspur.

Right-back Ivanovic has been one of Chelsea's worst performers all season and has shown little sign of finding form.

Suspicion is now growing that the 31-year-old is preparing to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, when his contract expires.

Mourinho had hinted at his dismay at the attitudes of some players in his final interview with Chelsea's in-house TV station, in which he said: "Some of them need to rethink how they live Chelsea, they live football, they live their job."

One player over whom Mourinho has no doubts, though, is Courtois, who he rates as the best goalkeeper in the world.

Mourinho has already been linked with a return to Real Madrid and would recommend they should target Courtois.

He would also chase the Belgian with any other top European club who might be able to afford the 23-year-old.

Real president Florentino Perez has ruled out an instant return to the Bernabeu for Mourinho, but suggested the 52-year-old could go back to the club he managed for three years in the future.

Only this summer, Real made an inquiry for Courtois but were told he would cost a world-record transfer fee.

That put the Spaniards off, but Mourinho will target the Belgian wherever he turns up next.

Other than Real, Mourinho has already been linked to Manchester United, who are believed to be on his wish-list of places to work.

Chelsea are unlikely to accept any bids for Courtois, from Mourinho or anybody else, but failing to qualify for the Champions League could make it tougher to convince him that Stamford Bridge should remain his long-term home.

On the possibility of Mourinho replacing Rafael Benitez at Real, Perez said:

"Will Mourinho coach Madrid again? Nobody can predict the future, but right now I say no.

"I have very good memories of Mourinho. He raised the competitive level.

When he got here we occupied 13th place in the Uefa rankings and Mourinho got us back to the top and helped us play three (Champions League) semi-finals in three years.

"But Benitez is coach of Real Madrid now.

"After we won the Club World Cup we began a gradual deterioration from January and needed a new impetus. We believe Rafa Benitez must be given time."