Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho has spoken about the use of confrontational leadership styles in order to bring out the best in players, but his squad this season has been performing so well that he says those tactics haven’t been necessary.
Talking to reporters ahead of the March 22 game at Hull City, the Portugese manager explained why his work has been fairly straightforward during the course of the team’s current campaign. He’s famous for “confrontational leadership,” which he describes as being ready to provoke players and create conflict in order to “bring out the best” in them. But, he said, “at the moment I don’t need that.”
Right now everything is going in the direction he wants, he explained, so “I’m happy with everything.” To be sure the team’s performance has not been perfect — they lost to Bradford, and in the Champions League — but overall the team’s behaviour, motivation, responsibilities, frustration, how they react to both positive and negative events, and their overall lack of complacency is to him going well. Chelsea fans would agree: apart from the Champions League loss, their biggest problem is where to buy Chelsea tickets right now.
Talking about his current management style, “I just need to be present,” Mourinho said, adding that he feels right now he doesn’t have to play the big leader or look for different strategies.
In the past, Mourinho explained, he’s criticised particular players in order to produce a positive reaction. At the same time, according to the manager, Eden Hazard’s evolution hasn’t had anything to do with the comments he made about the Belgian player after Chelsea’s loss to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last season.
“I don’t think it was me,” he said. Maybe it was Hazard’s ambition and level of maturity arriving, noting that Hazard being named Young Player of the Year represented “no big thing” for the player because he’s not trying to be best young player, Hazard is trying to be the best player.
Hazard, according to Mourinho, is going through a “natural evolution” where he wants to be the best, win titles, score more goals, and improve his game. It’s been a process of accumulated feelings and experiences. Mourinho may still refer to him as a kid but “he’s a man” and a main player, the manager stated. While Hazard can still get better he’s reached a high level of playing stability and a “fantastic level” overall.
Chelsea have drawn four of their last six matches across all competitions, leading each occasion, yet Mourinho doesn’t have any additional concerns that his team hasn’t killed off matches lately.
In Mourinho’s view, when a team starts off a game well and scores before the opponent, it’s an indication that the players’ attitude, tactics, team selection, and game plan was correct. It’s better to start off games by scoring than not.
Playing against West Ham and Tottenham they won the games, but in other matches the opponent equalised. Playing West Ham they tried everything they could in order to pull off more goals, including Cresswell saving on the line, another fantastic save off a Ramires header, and shots from both Eden and Ramires. Playing Southhamptom, Mourinho noted, they had a “fantastic” second half and they could have scored more goals but didn’t. “It’s difficult, that’s football,” he added.
The manager also said that though he’d of course prefer to be in the Champions League, not having midweek fixtures could be pivotal as Chelsea chases the title. Now the team can play in a way they couldn’t when they were competing for all the cups — they can get in good exercises, good training sessions, and work on preparing the team for specific games and spending more time analysing opponents.