Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho joked the only quadruple he is interested in right now is a fourth consecutive victory in all competitions when the Blues play their first of five matches over the next 14 days. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho joked the only quadruple he is interested in right now is a fourth consecutive victory in all competitions when the Blues play their first of five matches over the next 1Show more

Jose Mourinho says ‘I don’t have a secret to keep players happy’ ahead of Stoke City

Jose Mourinho accepts there are frustrated and even unhappy individuals in the Chelsea dressing room but is confident such players are ready to help the team during this hectic festive period.

An exceptional start to the season means the west Londoners head to Stoke on Monday at the top of the Premier League and, in theory, able to win an unparalleled quadruple.

Mourinho joked the only quadruple he is interested in right now is a fourth consecutive victory in all competitions when the Blues play their first of five matches over the next 14 days.

It is a period Chelsea look well placed to succeed over due to the strength in depth at their disposal, which sees top-quality internationals amongst those having to wait patiently for a chance.

Mourinho knows that brings with it a certain level of disgruntlement, yet believes it makes the players hungry and ready to bring the Blues success.

“I’m very club, club, team, team, club, group [orientated],” the Portuguese said.

“I think everybody has to be ready to sacrifice for the team, to give everything for the team, to think about the team, not to be selfish. This is the way I want a team to be.

“I think it is right when you say that players are unhappy or players are frustrated, that they need to be patient. I don’t have a secret to keep players happy.

“But the reality is that, to be professional and work at a high level, you don’t need to be happy. All of them are professionals.

“The team is more important than themselves, and the club [is].

“Even the ones not playing like [Mark] Schwarzer, who hasn’t played a second, but if he has to play tomorrow he would be ready. Why? Because he is very professional and he trains very well.

“We don’t have a secret to keep them happy because we don’t keep them happy.

“We may have a secret to make them work every day at a high level.”

One of those frustrated players appears to be Petr Cech, who this term has been displaced as number one by Thibaut Courtois.

Mourinho says the long-serving Czech is one of the top three goalkeepers in the world, but would have no problem bringing a fit-again Courtois back in at Stoke.

“I put the team up,” the Chelsea boss said when asked how Cech would find out.

“It’s my decision and the players may not be happy with the decision, or not agree with the decision, but they know my decision is not to favour somebody or to punish somebody.

“It’s what I think is best for the team at a certain moment. This is the way I do it.

“It’s one of the first things I say to every squad at the beginning of the season: I don’t give explanations to players unless they ask me for one.

“If somebody come to me and ask me to explain, obviously [no problem]. But, by principle, I don’t explain things.

“I have to see if Courtois is 99 per cent or 100 per cent. If he’s 99 per cent he doesn’t play for sure.

“I have to make life easy for me. If I explain to one, I have to give them all explanations. In Christmas, I’d spend all the time giving explanations.”

Mourinho gave a curt response when one Chelsea player knocked on his door - “I said [the other guy] was playing better, closed door, goodbye” - and says even the likes of Mario Balotelli and Iker Casillas did not approach him at former clubs.

“It’s the concept of helping the team,” he explained. “The one that comes on in the last five minutes, he can be a crucial player.

“If he makes a mistake, the team loses. If he does well, the team wins. It is the concept of the team - everybody wins, everybody loses.”

English Premier League results & fixtures


Hull City 0 Swansea City 1

Queens Park Rangers 3 West Bromwich Albion 2

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Burnley 1

West Ham United 2 Leicester City 0


Monday (in UAE time)

Stoke City v Chelsea, midnight

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

The Old Slave and the Mastiff

Patrick Chamoiseau

Translated from the French and Creole by Linda Coverdale


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2


Director: David Lowery

Stars: Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Joshua Pickering

Rating: 3/5

Some of Darwish's last words

"They see their tomorrows slipping out of their reach. And though it seems to them that everything outside this reality is heaven, yet they do not want to go to that heaven. They stay, because they are afflicted with hope." - Mahmoud Darwish, to attendees of the Palestine Festival of Literature, 2008

His life in brief: Born in a village near Galilee, he lived in exile for most of his life and started writing poetry after high school. He was arrested several times by Israel for what were deemed to be inciteful poems. Most of his work focused on the love and yearning for his homeland, and he was regarded the Palestinian poet of resistance. Over the course of his life, he published more than 30 poetry collections and books of prose, with his work translated into more than 20 languages. Many of his poems were set to music by Arab composers, most significantly Marcel Khalife. Darwish died on August 9, 2008 after undergoing heart surgery in the United States. He was later buried in Ramallah where a shrine was erected in his honour.

Abu Dhabi GP schedule

Friday: First practice - 1pm; Second practice - 5pm

Saturday: Final practice - 2pm; Qualifying - 5pm

Sunday: Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (55 laps) - 5.10pm

If you go


Despite the extreme distance, flying to Fairbanks is relatively simple, requiring just one transfer in Seattle, which can be reached directly from Dubai with Emirates for Dh6,800 return.



Gondwana Ecotours’ seven-day Polar Bear Adventure starts in Fairbanks in central Alaska before visiting Kaktovik and Utqiarvik on the North Slope. Polar bear viewing is highly likely in Kaktovik, with up to five two-hour boat tours included. Prices start from Dh11,500 per person, with all local flights, meals and accommodation included; 


Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

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