Jose Mourinho says that the post-World Cup fatigue some of his players are suffering will have a major bearing on the team he selects to face Burnley tonight, although his big decision over his two goalkeepers is a straight pick on who he thinks is the better bet for the season.
The Chelsea manager will make his choice between Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois for the opening game of the season. The player who gets the nod will be the No 1 for the foreseeable future. With only two years left on the contracts of both players, there will obviously be potential problems in persuading the man who is left on the bench to renew his deal.
Courtois looks the more likely choice to be named as the No 1 – but that is by no means certain.
Mourinho said on Friday he would delay revealing his decision by two further days because he was aware it was likely to leak out – although the players had still not been told by yesterday lunchtime.
Asked whether he thought that too many players were still tired after the summer’s exertions, Mourinho said that was an inevitable part of changes in the game.
“I think it is modern football, more matches, more competitions, less time to work,” Mourinho said. “There is not even enough to have a real holiday where bodies and brains rest. In our case we had a group who had a good holiday and good pre-season and we had a medium group – because Spain going out in the group phase allowed us to get five players before we expected.
“The final group [of returning players] were very late. Are they ready individually? No, but we have to be ready as a team [for Burnley].
“Probably the first two or three matches will be more about the team that is ready than what I have in my mind as a first-team choice.
“We have an improvement in the goalkeeper group. We have [this] in defence also because we got Kurt Zouma [back from his loan at Saint-Étienne] and Luis Filipe [signed from Atletico Madrid] and that gives us balance. Filipe is a pure left-back which allows Cesar Azpilicueta to play on the right and Branislav Ivanovic can play in the centre, so that gives us more options.”
Mourinho said new signings Cesc Fabregas, from Barcelona, Diego Costa, recruited from Atletico Madrid, and the returning Didier Drogba, had further improved the side.
“Cesc is the kind of player we didn’t have. We never had this kind of football brain so that has improved [midfield]. Costa has the power, mobility and technical quality that improves the team. Didier is still a player with important qualities and he has a special feeling in the group to persuade people to work hard.
“The club did a fantastic job to get the funds to attack these targets. The players the club sold allowed us to buy players and make the team better and at the same time comply with FFP [Financial Fair Play].”
Asked whether he was surprised by the value of the deal that took the defender David Luiz from Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain, Mourinho said that rising figures were inevitable in football. The Luiz deal could rise to £50m.
“I’m never surprised by the market,” he said. “Whenever there is a certain number we always say this will be the record for the next 10 years, then six months later somebody pays more. What I am pleased with is that my club gave me what I asked for.”
The Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran has joined Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem on a season-long loan.