Wednesday 21 August 2019

Jose Mourinho takes aim at Graeme Le Saux and insists all Chelsea players happy to travel to Israel

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Matt McGeehan

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho issued a veiled swipe at Graeme Le Saux after insisting all of his players were happy to travel to Israel for Tuesday night's Champions League clash with Maccabi Tel Aviv, despite heightened security following the Paris terror attacks.

The Blues boss says there was no repeat of the 2001 trip to Israel, when England left-back Le Saux was one of six players who did not travel for a UEFA Cup game with Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Le Saux last month criticised Mourinho's "damaging" behaviour after a series of disciplinary run-ins with the Football Association and the Dr Eva Carneiro controversy amid Chelsea's miserable start to the season.

It appeared Mourinho, whose position has been under scrutiny of late, responded in kind when singling out Le Saux, who was joined in not travelling 14 years ago by Marcel Desailly, Emmanuel Petit, William Gallas, Albert Ferrer and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

The Group G game takes place in Haifa's Sammy Ofer Stadium, 60 miles north of Tel Aviv, as the arena is more suitable for European fixtures.

"We can just focus on playing," Mourinho said.

"And (to) leave security questions to people who know more than we do.

"I didn't have one single problem inside of the squad. I didn't have a Graeme Le Saux. I had everybody without fears, just wanting to come.

"I had even a player who maybe tomorrow or after tomorrow, his wife is having a baby and he's here to play, because he knows how important it is for us."

Asked who the expectant father was, Mourinho said: "He's one of the 20 with babies because the factory is working well. Every two months we have a new baby."

Midfielder Nemanja Matic said it was not him.

Matic said: "Not me, I have two already, so I have to rest a little bit."

Perhaps in another message to Le Saux, Mourinho refused to comment on the situation at Real Madrid or their 4-0 loss to Barcelona in last Saturday's El Clasico.

"In this moment I see so many people speaking, especially about the clubs in trouble, it's amazing the lack of respect, the lack of ethics," Mourinho said.

"If I speak about Real Madrid, I speak when they are winning, not when they are losing.

"I don't enjoy other people losing matches. I enjoy my club winning matches.

"I don't smile with defeats from other teams, I smile with my victories.

"That's why I don't smile a lot in the last four or five months."

Chelsea, who beat Norwich 1-0 on Saturday to end a three-match losing streak in the Barclays Premier League, could qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League with victory, if Porto beat Dynamo Kiev.

"We are focused on what we have to do," Mourinho added.

"We are very disappointed with the bad results we had for a significant period of time and we need to keep getting results for our happiness, for our pride.

"Tomorrow is simple: if we lose, we are in trouble. If we lose we depend on other results.

"If we get a draw we can qualify in the last game, but we cannot be first.

"If we win, maybe we qualify tomorrow and we have a big chance to finish first. The result tomorrow is very important for us."

The Blues beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in September, but Mourinho has guarded against complacency by reminding his players of last season's draw with Maribor, weeks after a 6-0 win.

Mourinho said: "It was simple. I gave the example of last season against Maribor.

"We put ourselves in trouble. The attitude was not the best in Slovenia and we paid the price of that."

Chelsea are 15th in the Premier League after 13 games, yet Mourinho maintains a place in the top four and Champions League qualification is possible.

Manchester United and Liverpool have missed out on Champions League football in recent seasons.

Mourinho added: "I said before the season started that this season another big team will not qualify for the Champions League. And we have to make sure that big team is not Chelsea.

"After tomorrow we will look at the Premier League match against Tottenham.

"The Premier League is still a window of opportunity for us to qualify."

PA Media

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