Chelsea ‘love’ is vital, says Mourinho

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says the affection he feels for his players has played a crucial part in the progress the team have made this season.

The Premier League leaders coasted to victory against West Ham on Boxing Day to secure a ninth home league win in nine games and ensure they maintain their three-point advantage over second-placed Manchester City.

And the Blues, who face Southampton on Sunday and Tottenham on New Year’s Day, are also through to the Champions League knockout stages as group winners and into the Capital One Cup semi-finals.

“I am happy as a coach because my team is playing well,” Mourinho said.

“And I am happy as a guy because I love my players and I think it is very important for a coach to feel really good with the people that surround him.

“That is something I missed for a while, but with this group I have again a group that I love.”

The missing ‘love’ appears to be a reference to a difficult time in charge of Real Madrid, which was full of controversy and rumours of bust-ups and disagreements with players and the club’s hierarchy.

But Mourinho’s Chelsea side have made obvious improvements in his 19 months in charge, with the main summer signings Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa leading the way.

“The results are good, the performances are quality and the players are happy,” Mourinho added.

“I think we are a much better team when we have the ball. Last year we were very strong defensively but lacked a bit of creativity when we had the ball.

“The challenge this season was to bring that creativity and dynamism without losing the good defensive qualities of the team.

“In the beginning of the season there was a little bit of conflict between these two ideas. We made some defensive mistakes. We conceded three goals against Everton and it was difficult to have a clean sheet.

“But I think in this moment we have a good balance on that. The team is happy to have the ball but the team is also comfortable when the opposition has the ball. I think we are a very good team.”

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