Jose Mourinho accepted responsibility for Chelsea’s lethargic display in their 1-0 defeat to FC Basel in the Champions League as he admitted that he could have freshened a ‘tired’ squad up with more changes.
The home side at the St. Jakob-Park stadium went at the Blues from the off as they needed three points to stand a chance of qualifying from group E and Mourinho’s side lacked the sharpness to handle them.
Chelsea’s defence were caught napping for Mohamed Salah’s 87th minute winner but luckily Schalke’s failure to beat Steaua Bucharest in the other fixture meant that the Europe League holders are through to the knockout stages and will top the group with a victory in the final game.
Mourinho said that the performance may encourage him to make a better use of the squad that he has at his disposal, especially with a congested fixture list ahead:
“This situation maybe helps me to make decisions when we have consecutive matches. I got signs of fatigue and players having trouble playing two consecutive matches in three days. That will push me for sure to make different decisions. That’s obvious.
“In some positions we have that situation resolved in a very easy way, because we have lots of players to play the attacking positions behind the strikers to try to give the team the sharpness it needs to win every game.
“We will make decisions but it’s not a question of punishment; it’s a question of using the squad and the options we have.”
This may mean more chances for the likes of Juan Mata, David Luiz, Andre Schurrle, Kevin De Bruyne and Ryan Bertrand. It’s particularly interesting that the manager spoke specifically about the amount of attacking changes he could make as many fans are frustrated that Mata did not feature last night and hasn’t had enough opportunities to show what we fully know he’s capable of.
It wouldn’t hurt to rotate in defence either. Neither Branislav Ivanovic nor Gary Cahill covered themselves in glory for the goal last night and if David Luiz had been in that defence I think we would have heard a lot more about it, so the Brazilian perhaps deserves a reprieve and a chance to win his place back, whilst Cesar Azpilicueta’s solid displays at left-back have earned him a chance to succeed on his preferred flank.
Chelsea are in a stable situation at the moment as they’re close to the Premier League leaders and through to the next round of the Champions League, but are capable of so much more and fans will hope that Mourinho can help his team will soon go up a few gears as we push for silverware.