David Jones
Football Presenter

Chelsea v Fulham: David Jones looks ahead to Saturday Night Football

Jose Mourinho: needs to nurture his squad before it fulfils its potential

Jose Mourinho was once asked who he was addressing in his media interviews: the press, the fans or the players. Mourinho's reply was revealing: "First, the players; second, the players; third, the players."

I was reminded of that quote when I heard the Chelsea manager addressing the press before their Champions League action this week. He said: "I have beautiful young eggs ... and one day the eggs will hatch and be ready for life at the top level."

I'm paraphrasing but Mourinho's point was that this is a squad full of young promising players who need nurturing before they reach their full potential. This was a message for everyone but the players.

Whether Mourinho realised it before he took the job, or since he returned to Stamford Bridge, he now knows this Chelsea squad is not as primed for silverware as his first. His henchmen - Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry - are approaching the end of their careers; he lacks a guaranteed goal getter; he's inherited the David Luiz conundrum - brilliant but maverick; and he must find a ruthless blend amongst his attacking fledglings.

Here was a gentle reminder from Mourinho to everyone on the outside that they should not expect this Chelsea team to march to honours in this the first season of his second coming. At Everton last Saturday they enjoyed moments of promise without ever really testing Tim Howard, despite their recorded 22 goal attempts.

"Of course Samuel Eto'o's radar will improve in time and there will be days when individuals like Eden Hazard and Juan Mata will win games on their own but this was not the Chelsea of old."

David Jones

Of course Samuel Eto'o's radar will improve in time and there will be days when individuals like Eden Hazard and Juan Mata will win games on their own but this was not the Chelsea of old.

Stardust

On paper the visit of Fulham, on this week's Saturday Night Football, hands Chelsea the chance to get straight back on track. Their South West London neighbours are experiencing teething troubles of their own.

It's an interesting blend Martin Jol is trying to pool together at Craven Cottage. Around the solid types - Brede Hangelaand, Aaron Hughes, Sascha Riether, Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell - the Dutchman has sprinkled stardust. At their best Adel Taarabt, Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov could frighten any side but it's getting them firing at the same time which is proving difficult.

They will start as rank outsiders at Chelsea on Saturday evening but Jol would love nothing more than to crack a few egos.