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Mourinho unsure if Chelsea slump over

AFP , Friday 23 Oct 2015
Jose Mourinho
Football - Chelsea - Jose Mourinho Press Conference - Chelsea Training Ground - 23/10/15 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho during the press conference Action Images via (Reuters)

Jose Mourinho admitted on Friday he could not say if Chelsea had finally turned the corner after a disastrous start to their Premier League title defence.

Mourinho's side have recorded back-to-back clean sheets after the international break, beating Aston Villa in the league before securing an away point at Dinamo Kiev in the Champions League.

Despite that Villa win Chelsea are struggling in a lowly 12th position.

The Chelsea manager believes his side's performances in those two games signalled a return to the defensive strength that marked their title winning campaign last season.

But the Portuguese is not ready to declare that the Blues’ difficulties are a thing of the past – although he insists the unity in his squad has never wavered, despite repeated reports of tensions between the manager and some of his players.

He said: "I don't know (if the bad start is behind them). I just know that the team was always together. The players were always together.

"The players who were man enough to assume responsibilities and to say even publicly, some of them, that they were feeling responsibilities in their individual poor start.

"Statistics are very clear for us. As an example, we conceded six goals as a consequence of isolated individual mistakes, but the team were always together.

"At this moment we have two important results, three points in the Premier League after two matches without a victory.

"And against a direct rival in qualification in the Champions League, we got a point away.

"The group was always solid, compact and together, but the mood improves with results. People are happy.

"It's important. Not just the clean sheets, but the way the team played to keep the clean sheets. It was not an occasional clean sheet, a clean sheet based on a super goalkeeping performance. Both were based on good teamwork."

Mourinho is adamant he has seen signs of improvement, and singled out Nemanja Matic for praise for the way he responded to be left out of the starting line-up.

The manager said: "(There has been an improvement) In the team performance and the result. The victory against Aston Villa was a good result, the draw in Dyamo was a good result.

"Matic went from being on the bench against Aston Villa, played the second half positively, to being the man of the match three days later. So just one example. Other players also improved in their performances. A bit better."

And he added: "Kiev was a difficult match for us. We want to win, but we couldn't lose. For about an hour the team played really well.

"In the end a bit of frustration that we didn't win, but a good feeling there was an improvement."

Eden Hazard was left out of the starting line-up against Villa, with Mourinho making it clear after that game the Belgium playmaker had to improve his all-round contribution.

Hazard was recalled for the Kiev clash but Mourinho refused to indicate whether the 22-year-old would start against West Ham on Saturday.

He said: "He played the last game and played for 90 minutes and was part of the compact team that kept that clean sheet. I don't know (if he will play on Saturday)."

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