Petr Cech revealed a genius tactic that kept Chelsea players happy during Jose Mourinho’s first spell at the club.
Mourinho was a transformative figure for Chelsea and the Premier League as a whole when he arrived in English football in 2004.
On the pitch, the Blues went on to win two Premier League titles in succession, while away from the field Mourinho charmed the English media with pithy quips and divisive press conference claims.
And speaking onMonday Night Football, Chelsea then-No.1 keeper Cech claimed that Mourinho would use press conferences to peddle the narratives that would benefit his team the best.
Cech explained: “People have this perception of Jose obviously from TV, and because of his press conferences.
“I hope he doesn’t mind me saying, he would sometimes come to our meeting and say, ‘Guys, this is what I want. This is what I think. This is what we do, but I’m going to go to the press conference and say this and that so don’t be surprised. It’s just a thing I want them to hear. I want them to have that kind of feeling about [us] because I want them to do this.’
“So sometimes what he did was planned to take pressure off the team, to play mind games with the opponent. He was always a step ahead with this.”
Cech also praised Mourinho’s man-management qualities, adding that he created a meritocratic culture at Chelsea.
“At the beginning as well, you could only have 16 players for a game,” Cech explained. “People don’t realise that until the 2006/07 season, you could only have 16 players on the team sheet, so there was huge competition.
“He was always a step ahead” 👣
Petr Cech on what it was like to play under Jose Mourinho ⭐ pic.twitter.com/A4hBi0gc6I
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“But he would always be one step ahead because he would say, ‘Okay, you’re not playing because we’re playing at home, we’re playing a team who will sit back and I don’t need you.’
“For example to [Claude] Makélélé he would say, ‘I don’t need a holding midfielder, who’s brilliant defensively when we’re going to have the ball at our feet for 90 per cent of the game. I don’t need you so have the time off. I’m going to take an extra striker.’
“But then he would say to players ‘You’re not [playing] because you don’t deserve to. You’re not training well and you didn’t play well last time. I’m going to give the chance to someone else.’
“So you knew exactly where you were and he set a standard that you never wanted to go below, and the players bought into it. In pre-season we started like that, the standard was really high, and we never dropped that standard.’”