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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho confident Chelsea will escape group despite defeat to Basle

Jose Mourinho expects Chelsea to advance to the knockout stages of the Champions League despite opening their Group E campaign with a 2-1 defeat at home to Basle.

Goals from Mohamed Salah and Marco Streller, after Oscar had put Chelsea in front, saw Basle win in England for the first time at the 11th attempt and end the Blues' near 10-year, 29-match unbeaten home run in the Champions League group stages.

Mourinho's side next travel to Steaua Bucharest, who beat the Blues in Romania earlier this year, before twice tackling Schalke in a group they were expected to breeze through.

"The objective of finishing in the top two in the group phase and to go to the next stage of the Champions League is an objective that is not lost, far from it," Mourinho said.

"It's an objective we're going to fight for and it's an objective that I believe very, very much that we're going to achieve.

"We lost three points that we must get somewhere. We must get them, (in) Basle, or Schalke, or Bucharest, or all of them or some of them.

"Normally you have to win the matches at home and get a few points away.

"Now we must win six points at home, Schalke and Steaua, but we have also to win points away. Probably we have to go to win at Basle to compensate for the defeat."

Chelsea suffered the ignominy of becoming the first holders to exit the tournament at the group stage last term before beating Steaua and Basle en route to winning the Europa League.

Mourinho, who is not prepared to ponder another spell in the Europa League, accepted full responsibility for the defeat, which followed a loss at Everton and extended the winless run to four games ahead of Saturday's west London derby with Fulham.

"When we lose, I am the responsible (one)," said Mourinho, who did not see onlooking Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in the immediate aftermath of the defeat.

Mourinho has placed emphasis on youth, even though his team has enormous experience, including Samuel Eto'o, who was ineffective.

Mourinho stressed his happiness with his strike options, after leaving Fernando Torres out of the squad and bringing Demba Ba off the bench, but admitted Cameroon forward Eto'o may be lacking the sharpness displayed for Barcelona and Inter Milan after a spell in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala, where he commanded a vast salary.

Mourinho said: "The sharpness, that click to score, we have to wait. But he's a great player and he will score goals."

PA

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Comment: Jose Mourinho was brought back to Chelsea to win, not nurture 'eggs'

The romance of Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea has met the corrective force of reality’s iron boot. In their next engagement, Saturday’s home match with Fulham, Chelsea are seeking to end a run of three consecutive defeats, even if one of those was on penalties to Bayern Munich.

Mourinho has thus far failed to establish a pattern of play that any can fathom, his transfer policy looks reactionary and haphazard and, critically, he has lost the most vital knack of all, winning.

In his first coming, Mourinho backed his enigmatic outpourings with results. Talk of eggs needing a mother is fine when you are winning. When you are losing they sound like excuses. Roman Abramovic brought Mourinho back to win, not nurture.

There is no scope for the sympathetic recycling of teams in the Champions League or the Premier League. This must happen seamlessly. The imperative is always three points. Progression is measured in silverware. And it can’t be gradual.

The decision to allow Romelu Lukaku and Victor Moses to leave on loan looks rash in the context of what we are seeing. His declarations of happiness with a forward line that includes a light scoring, utterly reduced Fernando Torres, the lightly regarded Djemba Ba and the outrageous punt that is off-the-pace 32-year-old, Samuel Eto’o, border on madness.

The oversupply of gifted midfielders, augmented by the transfer deadline theft of Willian from Spurs, is a structural two-fingers to Mourinho’s avowed preference for small, manageable squads. Chelsea’s dependence on John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Peter Cech, players who were at the heart of his great team eight years ago,  point to more fundamental problems.   

Chelsea’s last win was a month ago at home to Aston Villa, and they were fortunate to edge that. Beyond that, the opening day canter against a deferential Hull represents their only other success. You would not back them to beat Hull this weekend.

Where once there was no embarrassment attached to his hubris, now his anointment as the Special One is the butt of semantic manipulation. Thus he migrates through a series of redactions to the Happy One,  the Hopeful One. How long before he becomes the Desperate One or even worse, the Superfluous One.

Mourinho’s judgment and his credibility are suddenly on the line in a way he never imagined when he resurrected his Stamford Bridge love affair. The long stride of Abramovic down the tunnel after last night’s defeat to Basel, sent its own potent message.

This is the worst start to a season since Abramovic acquired the club, and Chelsea’s first home defeat in the group stage of the Champions League in almost ten years. The practiced insouciance in the face of awkward questions will not wash for much longer. We are about to discover how special Mourinho really is, and how patient the owner.

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