Jose Mourinho had a dig at former Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux when he said all of his players were happy to travel to Israel this week.
In light of heightened terrorism fears and ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League clash with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Blues boss revealed there was no repeat of the 2001 trip to Israel, when England left-back Le Saux was one of six players who did not make the trip for a UEFA Cup game with Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Marcel Desailly, Emmanuel Petit, William Gallas, Albert Ferrer and Eidur Gudjohnsen also did not travel on that occasion.
“We can just focus on playing,” Mourinho said.
“The best way is to focus on football and the happiness you have to play football, the responsibility you have to play football and (to) leave security questions to people who know more than we do.
“I didn’t have one single problem inside of the squad. I didn’t have a Graeme Le Saux. I had everybody without fears, just wanting to come.
It is not clear why Mourinho chose to single out Le Saux, though the answer may be found in an article the former Chelsea defender wrote in The TRimes last month in which he criticised the Chelsea boss over his handling of former club doctor Eva Carneiro.
Le Saux wrote: ‘What concerns me most, given the work I’m doing for the FA, is the impact Mourinho’s behaviour may have throughout the whole game.
‘We’re trying to deal with some very sensitive issues and to change the culture of the game.
‘Some good people at the FA have taken a kicking after concluding there was insufficient evidence to charge Mourinho, whilst the whole furore may also deter women from becoming involved in football, as well as discouraging clubs from employing them.
‘A lot of people are working very hard to get the game in a better place, but after the last few weeks it feels as if we’ve gone back 30 years.
‘Mourinho could have reduced the fallout if he had just apologised. You can apologise for your behaviour without apologising for why you did it.
‘I wonder if there’ll ever be a time that Mourinho accepts his responsibility to the game.
‘If you want the rewards for being successful in football, you have to accept responsibilities. To admit you’ve done wrong, I don’t think Mourinho has ever done that.
‘As someone who was privileged to play for Chelsea for 12 years, I’m saddened that it has come to this.’
Mourinho says his squad’s desire to play is highlighted by one expectant father in the party to travel for the Champions League clash.
“I had even a player who maybe tomorrow or after tomorrow, his wife is having a baby and he’s here to play, because he knows how important it is for us,” said Mourinho.
Asked who the expectant father was, the manager said: “He’s one of the 20 with babies, because the factory is working well. Every two months we have a new baby.”
Midfielder Nemanja Matic said it was not him.
Matic said: “Not me, I have two already, so I have to rest a little bit.”
Chelsea, who beat Norwich 1-0 last Saturday to end a three-match losing streak in the Barclays Premier League, could qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League with victory, if Porto beat Dynamo Kiev.
“We are focused on what we have to do,” Mourinho added.
“We are very disappointed with the bad results we had for a significant period of time and we need to keep getting results for our happiness, for our pride, and obviously for the people that support us, Chelsea fans.”
The Blues beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in September, but there will be no complacency, with the Portuguese reminding his players of last season’s draw with Maribor, weeks after a 6-0 win.
Mourinho said: “I spoke with the players this morning and it was simple. I gave the example of last season against Maribor.
“We put ourselves in trouble. The attitude was not the best in Slovenia and we paid the price of that.”
Mourinho also refused to comment on the situation at Real Madrid or their 4-0 loss to Barcelona in last Saturday’s El Clasico.
“In this moment I see so many people speaking, especially about the clubs in trouble, it’s amazing the lack of respect, the lack of ethics,” Mourinho said.
“If I speak about Real Madrid, I speak when they are winning, not when they are losing. From me, words about the Clasico. Nothing.
“I don’t enjoy other people losing matches. I enjoy my club winning matches.
“I don’t smile with defeats from other teams, I smile with my victories.
“That’s why I don’t smile a lot in the last four, five months.”