Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea players have banned all banter as they attempt to arrest the club’s worst start to a top-flight season for 29 years.
The Premier League side have also denied allegations, made by the talkSPORT commentator Stan Collymore, of a bust-up between club captain John Terry and striker Diego Costa, with a club spokesman describing it as “utter nonsense”.
Senior Chelsea sources insist there have not been any crisis meetings after Saturday lunchtime’s defeat at Everton meant the struggling champions have taken just four points from their opening five games to leave them 17th in the table and with the worst defensive record out of all 20 teams.
The Daily Telegraph, however, claims that while Chelsea boss Mourinho has so far decided against ranting and raving at his players, he has decided to ban all joking and laughter from their training sessions as they attempt to arrest their slump in form.
Mourinho is considering making changes to his team for the Champions League visit of Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday, with Oscar expected to return to the starting line‑up in his favoured No 10 role. Other than Oscar, Mourinho could give Willian, Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy the chance to impress against the Israelis and put more pressure on Chelsea’s struggling players, with Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic among those to suffer an alarming drop in form.
Matic targets win
Blues midfielder Nemanja Matic admits that the Chelsea players badly need a confidence boost after the Everton defeat and believes the Maccabi game is must-win for him and his team-mates.
“It’s good we have another game against Maccabi,” Matic said. “We have to win, for our own confidence and for the fans. Then we have a derby against Arsenal, so I hope we will be ready for that and we can take three points.
“Of course we are not happy. Everybody is sad because of the result. Obviously we feel bad. We are in a difficult moment and having four points after five games is not normal for our team.
“Chelsea are not used to being on runs like we are at the moment, but this is the reality. We have to work hard to get our game back to the way we played last season. I really don’t know what’s happened, but it’s not good for us and we need to see what we can do better as a team.”
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