Jose Mourinho has reportedly told his Chelsea squad they are playing for their futures between now and the January transfer window.
Mourinho also hinted he is ready to go against owner Roman Abramovich’s desire for expansive, attacking football in order to stamp his authority back on Stamford Bridge.
Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror provides the quotes:
You can’t say we don’t score goals because we’re not an offensive team and don’t play offensive football and don’t have ball possession, because we [do] have an attacking mentality.
I feel we are going in one direction, which is the direction we want to be to play a certain kind of football, but the reality is we are not scoring.
But probably, if we play a defensive game and we just go on the counter-attack, probably we go there and score two or three goals.
Chelsea have not looked like a Mourinho-led side since his return to West London in the summer.
Where once there was the powerful figure of Didier Drogba upfront, now stands no focal point at all. In 2004-05 the Blues boasted a defence that conceded 15 league goals all season, yet Wednesday saw them concede over 10 percent of that figure to Basel.
Added to the 1-0 loss at Everton, Mourinho has seen enough. He remains a fierce advocate of the squad at his disposal, but has warned the players nobody is—to use his chosen word—"untouchable." Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail has more:
Jose Mourinho demanded immediate improvements from his shell-shocked Chelsea players during a meeting with the entire squad at their Cobham training centre.
Some of the points raised by Mourinho at Cobham have been interpreted as “constructive” and “positive”, but a number of players were left in no doubt their places are under threat.
The success of Mourinho’s second term at Chelsea will come down to whether it is he or Abramovich setting the Stamford Bridge culture.
Mourinho has a squad bristling with talent—some of the best No. 10s in European football wear Chelsea blue. However, most are only interested in getting on the ball rather than doing the dirty side of the game, like tracking back or making runs off the ball.
The message from Mourinho to Abramovich is clear. Continue to pick an unbalanced team full of flair players and fail. Alternatively, let the Portuguese rein things back and win.
During "the Special One’s" first term at Chelsea, the Blues were at their best when they countered through the pace of Arjen Robben and Damien Duff in support of Drogba.
However, the crucial platform for that attack was provided by the figures of Claude Makelele and Michael Essien, always with Frank Lampard as the greatest threat from midfield.
Right now, Lampard finds himself among Chelsea’s more defensively aware options. The Blues have so many players wanting to go forward that there aren't enough players willing to go and get the ball in the first place.
Basel’s equaliser was a prime example as the Swiss side effortlessly played through midfield without a hint of a challenge. Mourinho intends to change the emphasis.
Defend first, attack second has always been his philosophy. If Abramovich wants more trophies at Stamford Bridge, he will do well to listen to the Portuguese.