Have you been in touch with Jose Mourinho over his new role at Spurs?
“Yeah, we had a couple of messages. I wished him well in his new role, as he has always done for me. A couple of messages.”
What do you think he will take to Spurs?
“I think history and results speak for themselves. The trophies and titles he’s managed to win at the clubs he’s worked at are not surprises, it’s because of hard work that he’s been in and he’s done that consistently at the teams that he’s been at. That what we measure him and measure us as manager by. The other thing with that is wherever you go is a new beginning, so I don’t think you can rely on that yourself and I’m sure he wont be behind the scenes but that’s why people will hold up his record and expect big things from him.”
Does it make it tougher for the other clubs now that he is back?
“It keeps him off Sky Sports for a while.
“He’s got a good team, they’re a very good team. When you look at the start of the season when you look at spurs they were a lot of peoples’ favourites to be in the race to win the title. Now I know they’ve have a difficult start but I think when you look at what Pochettino built over the past few years I’ve got huge respect for what he did at that football club. And I think what Mourinho takes on is a group of very good players. Even though they are in a very false position at the moment I believe for whatever reason. It will be tough because they have quality players, a quality manager and all the structure there. They have a training ground and stadium, so they’re going to be a threat without a doubt.”
Are they back in the top four race?
“Yeah, without a doubt they’re in the top four race. That was the story at the start of the season and it will be the story now and at the end of the season because of the quality. When you look at the team pound for pound it’s why they’ve been there for the past three or four years, it’s why they were in the champions league final. You look at their players throughout the squad, the strength in depth that they have, individual talent they have in forward areas. Off the top of your head the individual talent with Harry Kane in the team and players like that are going to be a threat. I knew that before and I know that now.”
Surprised he went to Spurs?
“That’s only his decision, and you only make that decision as you go. And Jose Mourinho has managed a lot of football clubs over a long career and sometimes thats what happens. So that’s his decision and whether fans judge you or not is out of your hands. It’s something you take those decisions and you see but as a professional you have to understand the right to work. But we do also have this tribal instinct int this country where fans react to that, but that remains to be seen.”
Azpilicueta and Jorginho to return, the Pulisic call: Lampard’s big decisions for Man City clash
See yourself at Tottenham in the future?
“I can firmly say no, and you can replay that again in 10 years.
“It wouldn’t happen but I think things are different, Jose Mourinho works for a lot of football clubs and we have to respect his right to work, on the other hand I was here for 13 years as a player and have an absolutely deep feeling for a club. Obvisouly I went to Manchester City for a year at the end of my career but Chelsea is certainly so close to my heart hence why I am so proud to manage the club and why I wouldn’t manage Tottenham.
“That’s no disrespect to anyone, it’s just because of what Chelsea has given me over my time as a player and now, it’s certainly not on my list.”
What would you have said to someone at the beginning of the season if they said you’d be above City after 12 games?
“Thank you very much; I’ll take that out of respect for Man City, because of the levels that themselves and Liverpool have reached in the last two seasons. It’s incredible. Incredible to watch, I watched it from the Championship seat last year, I watched it in the studio the year before and I have nothing but respect for both of them.
“For us to be in that position is something I am pleased with, I actually want more as well. I look at ourselves and don’t consider others, only where we could have got more points too, and there are times where we could have done.
“At the same time it is nice to be up there and around it.
“It’s a great test tomorrow, head to head to see where we’re at. It won’t be the end story, anyone can go to Manchester City and lose, they are such a strong outfit. That is what Pep Guardiola and the club have built over recent years.
“So I won’t be making huge judgements win or lose tomorrow without a doubt.
“Our story is three months in the making, in terms of me being here and the young players. Their story has been four years and more of hard work from top to bottom.”
How is Christian Pulisic and his injury?
“He didn’t go and we had full-on communication with the States and the manager and medical team.
“I like to be really open and transparent with that because I respect that they want their top players, as he is.
“He had a problem going into the last game against Palace, hence why he came off after his goal. He missed the two games, has started to train again this week so he’s in contention to play.
Everybody back healthy and on time?
“Yes everyone is back. Callum Hudson-Odoi is probably the one who has a hamstring issue that he picked up in the England game he will struggle to be in contention for this game, but it’s short term.
Any date for Loftus-Cheek?
International break, how was it for you?
“Well it is different and it can feel a bit long. I gave quite a big break to the staff and players who weren’t with their national teams, there weren’t many. They deserved a break because it is difficult to keep them here throughout just to train. It is a nice recharge for us all. It is taxing, not just for the staff but the players themselves. They need some family time. Some weeks we can go without days off and a lot of hours and travel, so it is time to utilise a bit of time for them.”
Is it a chance to gauge where you are?
“Yeah, as I mentioned before, yes in a way because you are up against a big team and I think the big teams we have gone up against this year, Liverpool twice we have gone pound for pound with them and lost unfortunately in tight matches. Manchester United in the first game we put in a good performance but the harsh reality is that we got beat. The second game against them we changed the team, with five or six changes. So those games that people will see as the ‘tougher’ games we have performed pretty well, without getting the results. The same time, tomorrow you can go to City and lose when playing at your best, that’s how good they are. So I won’t judge them on big picture on that one game.”
More different than playing for City against Chelsea?
“Yeah, without the date. I have mentioned about what I feel for this club. To manage them is a proud honour. In terms of going up against City, it is a club I had a great time at for a year, from the club, the structure, the fans, living in the centre of Manchester, I got on with the players. I really loved my time there, so I go back with nothing but good feelings about my time there and what they have done since. I look out for them a little bit. But I am Chelsea manager, everyone understands what I want tomorrow. I want to take a team there and absolutely compete and try to win.”
Is attack the best form of defence?
“I think it is probably too simplistic to look at it that way. There are times that City will put you under pressure. You have to defend, whether in your own 18 yard box or on the other side of the pitch to keep them away from your goal. We will try to be a continuation of our recent form. Of course, playing against City and the level that they are makes it an even tougher test.”
First England goals for Tammy and Mason…
“Brilliant for them. So pleased to watch them play and score. That is a continuation of their form. I know being that younger player with England and something like that happens, it helps and boosts your confidence. It gives them another sense of feeling at home at that level, which for your all-round confidence is a great thing. So I was pleased to see that.”
Jose Mourinho during his time at Manchester United when he faced Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino. (Image: Getty Images)
You are the last of the unsackable managers after Poch?
“No, no. It is certainly not. You ask about Pochettino, I have huge respect for him. I have met him a couple of times. Once when I was on my coaching badges a couple of years ago. I went to the Tottenham training ground and the hospitality he showed me when he didn’t need to was something pretty special. I watched them from afar and where he has taken that team and done incredible things with younger players through the development of the team. I wish him very well because I think he is a very classy man in how he works and how he is. I wish him well in whatever his next challenge is.”
Jorginho, Kante how do you get the best out of them playing together?
“I want it to be a positive issue for starters. On top of that, you mention Kovacic. I think in recent games a lot of people would say he is one of our outstanding performers and quite rightly. We have Mason Mount, Ross Barkley and Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] coming back. In terms of people who are playing regular at the moment it is great for me. I think something we have done pretty well as the season has gone on is have a bit of rotation and fluidity in our game in midfield and not pinning people down so they are stuck in that position. I hope that can carry on and bring the best out of the abilities of all the midfield players. I think in the abilities that they all have is that they can all apply different roles of a midfield player. They can all be the deeper player, they can all be higher up the pitch, they all have energy to get around the pitch. So I think we can use them all collectively.”
Can Jorginho play higher up the pitch?
“Yes, but I don’t think it is a case of putting him in a number 10 position but I think you have to give him the freedom to leave his areas if he plays as a deep midfield player. Not just with the ball, he can play some nice passes as you have seen against Watford with his through ball for Tammy [Abraham], but also without the ball there’s a real perception and energy to start the press. So if I pin him down and in front of our back four you don’t get those abilities and I think he has been doing that really well.”
Big match? Jose taken the attention away?
“I don’t mind. It has been good viewing for us all. I think in the Premier League that having people of such character and quality as Jose Mourinho is a great thing. I think we all watched his press conference yesterday waiting for the lines and personality. I think that’s a good thing and now the interesting thing to see will be how his team does. It watched it with one eye but there’s much more focus about what we do here and about the big game tomorrow.”
Pochettino wanted to be like Sir Alex? No longevity?
“Well, maybe a romantic notion is one thing but I think the real notion is that you should only look in the very very near future. As you eluded to there, you are always results and performances away from a good patch or a difficult patch. Everyone at the moment is saying how well we are doing but I don’t like that. I get nervous. I want to play that down and I want us to keep doing well. I am not certainly one who looks further ahead than the next game or next period of games. What will be will be after that.”