• Premier League

Mourinho not afraid of upsetting senior Chelsea stars

ESPN staff
June 6, 2013
Jose Mourinho dropped Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid's final two games of the season after a falling out © Getty Images

Jose Mourinho has said he is not afraid of consigning Chelsea's senior players to the Stamford Bridge bench, just as he did with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillas at Real Madrid.

Mourinho's return to Stamford Bridge after seven years away sees him reunited with many former players who played key roles during his first successful spell in charge, including John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech and Michael Essien.

But with all these players now in their thirties, and Blues owner Roman Abramovich reportedly providing the incoming boss with £100 million to freshen up the squad, Mourinho may now be faced with managing the expectations of players he has long claimed to be close friends.

"I am a coach who looks for a meritocracy," Mourinho told Spanish television station Punto Pelota.

"Whoever I think is best must play, without looking at status or the past. You play as you train. It is a normal situation, as it was normal for me to leave [Marco] Materazzi, a mythical player at Inter, on the bench.

"Or like [the interim manager Rafael] Benitez this year at Chelsea with Terry. The fans can think that Iker is better than Diego [Lopez]. I accept that, but I am the coach. If there are players who change their 'modus operandi' if they play or not, that is a problem for the player."

Mourinho's clashes with senior players at Madrid last season - also including Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Karim Benzema - has left some pundits claiming that whoever becomes the new Madrid coach will have a difficult job to knit together a divided side.

Mourinho however said that the Bernabeu dressing room was now in a much better state than when he arrived three years ago.

"The coach who comes in will find themselves in a different situation from the one I faced," he said. "Now they are psychologically on top of our biggest rival. Also the president will make two good signings."

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