Chelsea find that travel broadens the budget

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The Independent Football

It was about 4am yesterday by the time Chelsea's footballers were dropped off at the club's Cobham training ground and headed for their cars, and homes, following Wednesday evening's defeat of Levski Sofia in Bulgaria.

This less glamorous aspect of the millionaires' lifestyle may have repercussions when a vibrant, rested, Aston Villa team arrive at Stamford Bridge tomorrow. The treadmill of travelling and then playing is, though, the only way to underwrite the club's enormous wage bill.

Two victories have already doubled the club's initial €2m (£1.35m) reward for qualifying for the Champions' League and they are on course to finish the group stage €10.2m (£6.9m) richer.

Which may explain why Jose Mourinho could argue, yesterday, that he is a valuable contributor to Chelsea's seemingly limitless wealth.

Mourinho told Portuguese magazine Maxima: "Despite Chelsea belonging to only one owner it is almost self-sufficient. If we took away two or three multi-million pound signings from the budget the club would run itself.

"And I'm one of the people who contribute to that. There are managers who, at first sight, earn little, but in reality earn too much because they don't produce. Call me vain, but I produce because there are titles and, in conjunction with them, merchandising in an incomparably superior proportion to what existed before I came here."

But it was not, he insisted, about money. "I work with the maximum passion whether I earn a pittance or millions. I work for the pleasure of working and winning - if one day I got into a routine of no success, I think I'd leave football because, for me, it has to be about pursuing success."

Mourinho also revealed that he, and many of Chelsea's big earners, have agreed to pass on 40 per cent of their image rights to the club. He added: "I and the players who, like me, have publicity contracts, make an enormous contribution so that the club can pay us the amounts it does."

It can be assumed Andrei Shevchenko signed such a deal but his image is not in as much demand as anticipated following his struggle to score goals. The Ukrainian striker's unfamiliar uncertainty in front of goal is in stark contrast to the confidence evinced by Didier Drogba.

"I am not worried at all at this stage," insisted Shevchenko. "I hope I will score against Aston Villa but I know the goals will come for me soon. It is normal for a new player to take a while to get used to a new team and a new style of football. It is not something to concern myself about. I know that people are looking at my form but I am a team player and the team is doing well. That is what is important."

Shevchenko was backed by Frank Lampard, who said: "He is a top player. He's playing in a team that's winning and he's working his socks off for the team. Of course he'll want to score goals because he's a proven natural goalscorer but as long as he keeps working the goal will come, and once one comes they'll all come. We know that."

Lampard added of Chelsea's standing, two points clear in Group A: "We're not in a real dominant position in the group by any means because there's some tough games to come but it's set us up as well as could be expected.

"We needed to win these first two games and now we've got a serious double-header against Barcelona where we want to come out with two good results. Then we can talk about going through to the next stage."

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