Chelsea vs Swansea: Jose Mourinho hails selfless attitude of Costa, his new special one

 

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The Independent Online

John Terry may have scored an own goal on Saturday but at least he was playing for Chelsea. Petr Cech was on the bench, Didier Drogba did not get that close, and Frank Lampard was hooked after 45 minutes playing across the capital at Arsenal for Manchester City.

There is a new era at Stamford Bridge with Terry all that remains of the old guard at the heart of Jose Mourinho’s successful first spell at the club. Terry’s career has been revived since the Portuguese returned and he is again a key figure, but the best teams need more than one leader.

Branislav Ivanovic drives the team forward, and Cesc Fabregas is becoming increasingly influential, but the man who may come to embody the new Chelsea is an unexpected one. Goal-poachers are not normally regarded as selfless leaders of men, but Diego Costa has already shown he can contribute more to his new club than just goals – of which he has already scored seven in four matches.

Costa looks set to fill Drogba’s boots in terms of presence as well as goals. A nagging hamstring strain might have kept some players out of this match, especially having played for Spain in midweek and with Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Schalke 04 looming. Costa, said an approving Mourinho, was not so easily sidelined.

 

“He was a risk and a doubt before the Everton game, a risk and a doubt before [playing for] Spain, a risk and a doubt before this game. He played all three games and he is a risk and a doubt again for next Wednesday because of an accumulation of matches, but nobody can stop him.

“I tried to stop him, but he is a fantastic character. When a doubt is there and he has not the best feelings [in terms of full fitness], but he feels he can play, he plays. He is like John Terry.

“In modern society there are people sometimes behind players who make them be a little bit more selfish in the sense of ‘you first, and the team second’. Costa has the concept of ‘the team first, and me second; the team needs me and I am ready to go for the team’. When you get guys with this mentality they become special and they can be an influence to the people around them.

“It is important. It is the same as a guy that is tired but goes until the end. He is a leader of himself. He knows exactly what the team needs and is ready to give to the team.”

Costa’s on-field example is a bonus. He has been bought to score goals and looks as if he will score many of them. It is easy to suggest anyone playing in front of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Fabregas should score heavily but Fernando Torres, playing in front of Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata, did not make it seem so simple. Costa has a predator’s instinct – Saturday’s treble was scored from a combined distance of less than 20 yards – and a clinical, unfussy way of converting chances.

The one worry for Mourinho, as the Champions League approaches, was the way Swansea tore holes in Chelsea’s back line.

The turnover of managers is as high at Swansea as at Chelsea but the club have a philosophy, and a habit of making the right appointments, which ensures they progress serenely. The latest manager, Garry Monk, has further developed an already impressive team and Swansea contributed fully to a high-quality match.

With better finishing they could easily have scored four themselves before Chelsea overwhelmed them. As it is, Terry’s own goal and a late strike from Jonjo Shelvey took the total conceded by Chelsea to six in four league matches. However, since Chelsea have scored 15 in those games Mourinho is unlikely to be too concerned. The club’s owner does want exciting football and while one senses Mourinho, like most coaches, would rather win 2-0 than 4-2, the latter scoreline is a compromise acceptable to all.

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