Mourinho thanks Chelsea fans, lauds “strong mentality”

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Jose Mourinho said Chelsea beating Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League was a “big relief” for him and his players as the Blues moved one step closer to reaching the last 16.

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Mourinho’s side dug deep after Kiev equalizer with 15 minutes to go and Willian‘s late free kick sealed the victory, Chelsea’s first in five games in all competitions.

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Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Mourinho was asked about the reception he received from the fans as Chelsea’s supporters stood as one and sung his name loudly and proudly despite all the recent criticisms flying his way.

“I prefer the team obviously but what they [the fans] did for me is not normal, “Mourinho said. “Or they don’t read papers or they don’t listen to television and pundits and commentators or they have a big heart… or they recognize that I am a good professional and give everything to the club and brought good moments to the club and have a great memory. Independent of that it is not normal, such support with not just a bad run of results but what people read in newspapers and people listen on the television. I don’t know how to thank them, really. I don’t know how to thank them. The only thing I can say is that until my last day in this club, our years, 10 years, 15 years, doesn’t matter how long I stay here, until my last day I will give everything to them.”

Mourinho also lauded his players for their resilience and response after being pegged back by Aleksandar Dragovic’s equalizer with 15 minutes to go in the game. The same player had scored an own goal to put Chelsea 1-0 up in the first half but in the second half Kiev put them under intense pressure but the Blues responded superbly with subs Eden Hazard and Pedro making an instant impact when coming on after the equalizer.

“We had confidence in the negative moment because the negative moment is always arriving for us, from many different ways during the game,” Mourinho said. “The difficult moment is arriving for us every game. We had that good reaction against Stoke when we deserved to be in front and suddenly we are behind. Then the team, until we got the equalizer, had a good reaction. Today, when we conceded that goal with 15 minutes to go, I think the team was strong mentally. The team kept trying. I am happy with that.”

Mourinho is also happy with Willian as the Brazilian winger curled home his fifth goal of the season, all of which have been from free kicks, and also crossed for Chelsea’s opening goal.

“He is playing very well, not just today,”  Mourinho said of Willian. “He has been playing very well for a long time. I keep saying that many of the players are coming to their normal levels in spite of you can feel as a team when the negative moment comes the team shakes a little bit but today we were prepared for the negative moment because they are coming every match. Today we had a better reaction. I also had a very good bench with options that I think the team trust very much. 15 minutes to go, to bring Hazard and Pedro into the game I think the team feels confident of that because they are two players capable of turning the game around. I think everybody did their job very well. It is fair to look to Willian with different eyes because of his work rate, his quality on the ball and obviously his participation int he first goal and the phenomenal second goal.”

Next up for Chelsea is a trip to Stoke City on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) but Mourinho won’t be joining his players. The Portuguese coach was handed a one-game stadium ban after being sent off at West Ham United in a recent match but irrespective of him not being there on the sidelines, Mourinho expects his players to be focused.

“I think they know I am with them. I think they know I am going to prepare the team until the moment they go to the game,” Mourinho said. “They know that during the game the action of a manager is not so crucial. I think the fact that they also know why I am not on the bench, I think that is also important for the group.”