Jose Mourinho: I am very concerned about Chelsea

Chelsea need two late goals to come back against lowly Newcastle

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Jose Mourinho spoke of his confusion and concern at the end of another troubled afternoon. He admitted he could have taken off six of his players at half-time in the 2-2 draw at Newcastle, such was the woeful nature of a first-half performance he said was the worst he had experienced as manager of Chelsea.

These are crucial times at the club. Mourinho is walking into managerial mortality, where defeat is regular, criticism of your own players standard practice. 

It is not his way, but then his team are no longer playing the Mourinho way. They were rocked back for an hour at  St James’ Park, by which time they trailed Newcastle by two goals and the Premier League leaders by nine points.

The turnabout took inspirational substitutions and the execution of Mourinho’s game-changing plan, which brought Ramires’ stunning goal in the 79th minute and a free-kick from Willian that beat Tim Krul untouched.

There could have been a winning goal at the very death, when Krul saved from Ramires, but it did not hide the mounting problems the champions of England are facing after three defeats and a draw in their last seven games. Nor did Mourinho.

“Yes, I am very concerned,” he said. “I do not understand it and I do not accept it. I would like to have made more changes than I did but the ones that I did make were enough to improve the whole team. The reason I did not make substitutions at half-time was because I did not know which decisions to make. There were six players I could have taken off. That is how bad we were.”

Chelsea trailed to a fine strike from Ayoze Perez, three minutes before half-time. On the hour Georginio Wijnaldum glanced a header into the far corner of Asmir Begovic’s goal from a Perez corner. Mourinho acted then, hauling off Loïc Rémy and Nemanja Matic. Neither player got an acknowledgement from the manager.

Asked afterwards if he was puzzled by the way his side has regressed from its domestic dominance last season, Mourinho said: “Yeah, yeah, but about the game, no. I could perfectly read the game and understand why we were so poor. It is  easy to analyse the game and all the items that makes a football game, that is completely clear for me. The reason why we did that, or didn’t do that, that’s the question mark and I have to understand why.”

To add to Mourinho’s confusion and concern came Gary Cahill’s refusal to accept there is a crisis of confidence in the Chelsea team.

“There shouldn’t be, because we got a good result in the Champions League, we got a good result at Arsenal, so we were building momentum,” the defender said. He added: “We’ll take a point because if we’d lost this game it would have been a massive blow to us. Manchester City have lost so we have given up a lot of our lifelines now.”

The late revival at least kept the gap to new leaders Manchester United down to eight points. Diego Costa will not always be absent. In coming weeks Ramires’s energy will come from the start and not from the bench.

They might also face opponents with less to prove than Newcastle, who did enough to suggest better days may follow a bleak start to the season.

“After Wednesday, I said we needed to be men and I think that’s what we showed,” said goalkeeper Krul.

“The fans reacted to that. It was a shame to throw a two-goal lead away, but you can’t complain about a finish like that from Ramires. 

“Some strong words were said [after the Capital One Cup defeat by Sheffield Wednesday]. We had some meetings about it. It wasn’t good enough. It was far below par. We know that, but at least we showed a reaction. That’s the reaction we should have shown two or three weeks ago, but at least that’s something to build on.”