The Chelsea head coach has made a point of giving every member of his squad an opportunity to impress, but those who’ve already cemented.
One of Jose Mourinho’s most famous press conferences as Chelsea head coach took place on a chilly December day in 2006. The Portuguese was then at the peak of his powers and still basking in the glow of guiding the Blues to back-to-back Premier League titles.
Many felt Mourinho could do no wrong at this point: he was a master tactician and could motivate players like no other head coach. It’s why, when he reeled off his “untouchables” at Stamford Bridge, the press were enthralled.
“Claude Makelele is untouchable because of the way he plays,” Mourinho said. “Michael Essien is untouchable because of the way he plays. It is not because I love them.”
Mourinho didn’t stop there. In addition to Makelele and Essien, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Makelele, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Petr Cech were given untouchable status. If fit, they played. The rest of the first-team group had to accept that.
Such an approach is almost impossible in 2021. The elite-level clubs have deep squads and head coaches have the task of making every member of the senior side feels valued.
That is arguably where Lampard failed while in charge at Chelsea, there were too many on the periphery who were unhappy.