Chelsea dismiss reports of bust up between skipper John Terry and Diego Costa
Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea players have banned all banter as they attempt to arrest the club’s worst start to a top-flight season for 29 years.
Senior Chelsea sources insist there have not been any crisis meetings, following the defeat at Everton that meant the Premier League champions have picked up just four points from their first five games.
A claim of a bust-up between the captain, John Terry, and the striker Diego Costa, made by the talkSPORT commentator Stan Collymore, has also been denied with a spokesman describing it as “utter nonsense”.
However, while Mourinho has so far decided against ranting and raving at his underperforming players, there has been no attempt to lighten the dark mood at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground.
Mourinho and his players have mixed hard work with plenty of laughs since his return in 2013, but the jokes have now completely stopped as Chelsea desperately try to find their form.
While Mourinho and his squad are attempting to keep calm, there is a realisation that anything but wins over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League on Wednesday night and against Arsenal on Saturday would leave them in big trouble.
Mourinho is considering making changes to his team for the visit of Maccabi Tel Aviv, with Oscar expected to return to the starting line‑up in his favoured No 10 role. Other than Oscar, Mourinho could give Willian, Radamel Falcao and Loïc Rémy the chance to impress against Maccabi Tel Aviv and put more pressure on Chelsea’s struggling players.
One of Mourinho’s most pressing concerns is the fact that four of his ‘big’ players have all failed to produce their best form at the same time. Last season’s player of the year, Eden Hazard, right-back Branislav Ivanovic, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have failed to make the same kind of devastating impact that saw Chelsea top the table for the whole of last season.
Mourinho is trusting players with the ability and experience of Hazard, Ivanovic, Costa and Fabregas to find their own form. Ivanovic and team-mate Nemanja Matic have received the backing of Maccabi Tel Aviv manager and fellow Serb Slavisa Jokanovic, who spent two years as a midfielder at Chelsea.
“It’s not just a question over these two players, it’s the team,” Jokanovic said. “Ivanovic has played seven years at Chelsea and is one of the most important players in their recent history, playing in many key games and scoring vital goals. Matic is still relatively new there, but was fantastic last season.”
Matic admits that the Chelsea players badly need a confidence boost after the Everton defeat and believes the Maccabi game is must-win for him and his team-mates.
“It’s good we have another game against Maccabi,” Matic said. “We have to win, for our own confidence and for the fans. Then we have a derby against Arsenal, so I hope we will be ready for that and we can take three points.
“Of course we are not happy. Everybody is sad because of the result. Obviously we feel bad. We are in a difficult moment and having four points after five games is not normal for our team. Chelsea are not used to being on runs like we are at the moment, but this is the reality. We have to work hard to get our game back to the way we played last season. I really don’t know what’s happened, but it’s not good for us and we need to see what we can do better as a team.”