Mourinho wants Chelsea to find Drogba-Ibrahimovic winning mentality
Jose Mourinho wants his Chelsea squad to show the mental strength of Didier Drogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in title race
Jose Mourinho has urged his Chelsea squad to show the mental strength of Didier Drogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic amid the pressure of competing for the Premier League title.
The Blues boss has regularly spoken of his desire to instil a winning philosophy since sealing a much-anticipated return to Chelsea in June after a six-year absence.
For many of the current Chelsea crop, the pressure of pushing for the Premier League title is unfamiliar, aside from Mourinho’s old guard, including Petr Cech, Frank Lampard and skipper John Terry.
I gave Didier Drogba as an example. When I put real pressure on him, the animal was always coming out
But the 50-year-old Portuguese coach is starting to exert pressure on his squad to test their mentality, and Mourinho is hoping for his players to respond in the same manner as Drogba and Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho worked with the Ivorian during his first spell at Chelsea before transforming Ibrahimovic into one of Europe’s most-feared strikers at Inter Milan until the Swede sealed a move to Barcelona.
“I like to put pressure on them, yes, but you have to analyse the players you’re working with,” Mourinho said ahead of second-placed Chelsea’s trip to Sunderland on Wednesday.
“I gave Didier as an example. When I put real pressure on him, the animal was always coming out.
“Ibrahimovic at Inter – exactly the same. When I put real pressure on him, I knew that the answer was coming.”
However, not all of Mourinho’s former players have reacted in the same way, with the Chelsea boss revealing some would plead with the Portuguese not to criticise them in front of their team-mates in order to protect their fragile self-esteem.
“It depends on the players’ profiles,” he said. “Some react in a very good way. Some don’t. I have players who have told me not to criticise them in front of the other guys because, ‘It’s not good for my self-esteem.’ I’ve had everything.
“You accumulate experiences in your career that everything becomes like dejà vu.”
Mourinho has tested the character of his squad this season, regularly omitting back-to-back player of the year Juan Mata, whilst Kevin De Bruyne has barely featured despite impressing in the Bundesliga last term – player rotation has been the reoccurring theme.
But the Chelsea manager feels there is still time for the younger members of his squad to change their personalities and develop a title-winning attitude, through Mourinho’s guidance, of course.
“Some players, I know very well. Some of the others, I’m know them now, and some of them, because of their age have a personality that isn’t an end product,” he said.
“They can still transform their personality. When it comes to the younger players I have a job to do and I have to try to influence their way of feeling football.
“I think I can help – that’s why I think this is a job to do – not in a few months. Hopefully I can the best out of them.”
Despite the likes of Cech, Michael Essien, Lampard and Terry previously winning the top-flight crown and bringing much-needed know-how to his squad, Mourinho feels that the former champions may have forgotten what it takes to triumph in a tense title race.
“We have here some people who won the title before, but they’ve not won it for quite a long time,” he continued. “When you don’t do that for quite a long time, you forget it.”
He added: “You can find people with lots of titles and they want more until the last day of their career and you can find young people with a big desire to get there.
“You can find all the people sleeping and just waiting for the end of their career. You can find people with big potential but without desire. I think football management is not just about 4-4-2 and 4-4-3 – it’s not just about this.”
Naturally, though, Mourinho feels that the manager is the best sports psychologist to help the players get in the right mentality for a title challenge.
“The best psychologist is the person who is with them every day and who knows them deeply,” he said.
“With all the respect, we can run to these people. But the direction relation is face-to-face between me and my assistants and my players.”
With Chelsea’s strikers Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba yet to find the net with any sort of regularity this season, Mourinho will hope to rekindle their inner Drogba or Ibrahimovic sooner rather than later.