Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has warned out-of-favour midfielder Juan Mata that he has to “learn to play the way” he wants him to if he is to get back into his first-choice starting line-up.
Mata, who has struggled for game time this season, was omitted from the entire Chelsea squad for Saturday’s 2-1 win against Fulham.
However, Mourinho insists his long-term ambition is to field a team featuring both midfielder Oscar and Mata.
“I understand that lots of people like very much Mata and believe that he should be in that position. I believe the evolution of the team is to play with Oscar and Mata together, but one has to adapt for that to happen," he told Sky Sports.
“Oscar as a number 10 gives us creativity, but when we want to press, Oscar is a runner and we have our idea. We stick with our idea. I respect you a lot. The Chelsea manager is Jose Mourinho.
“Juan has to learn to play the way I want to play. He has to be more consistent, has to be more participative when the team loses the ball, and I think it is not his fault. It is just a consequence of the way he played in the last few years.”
Mourinho believes his successful managerial career means he works with different expectations to any of his Premier League rivals, as he hit back at the critics following his side’s much-needed win at Stamford Bridge.
Back-to-back defeats against Everton and Basel saw Mourinho come under huge pressure.
However, he has stressed that the instant success he inspired in his first spell at Chelsea may not be repeated second time around.
“With me, normally because I win in the first season, they demand a lot,” Mourinho said. “In the end, the Chelsea manager is Jose Mourinho and not the critics.
“They don’t understand that I am building a different team. One thing is to arrive at a club, buy a couple of players and leave everything the same, but more difficult is to change the philosophy and that takes a bit of time.
“I realise we are not playing very well, the results are not especially good, but I have seen this before. When one of the big teams loses a match, it is seen as a catastrophe because [big teams] don’t lose points. They expect to win, win, win, win.
“The beauty of the Premier League is everyone loses points. The six top teams, the six contenders for the title, all of us have had a defeat, so no drama. I agree we are not playing well, but the reality is we are there, we have ten points. We go, we work, we are top professionals and everyone is working hard.
“I have to say I have never worked so hard as I have with this group of players. I trust in the future and relation to critics and opinions, I learn for a long time to respect that.”
Mourinho went on to offer a fascinating insight into the Chelsea team he is trying to build, as he suggested the entire ethos of the club needs to be altered.
“I want to change the philosophy and it will take a little bit of time. I’m enjoying my work, it’s difficult, but I am enjoying it,” he said. “Our attackers are facing banks of opponents and this is a problem. When [Eden] Hazard gets the ball, he is never faced with the last line, but always a team that sits back and we are not doing well at getting in behind.
“When we scored the first goal [against Fulham], you could see we had more space. We have to play the ball on the floor, not the long diagonals because Didier Drogba plays for Galatasaray now and not Chelsea. We have a different profile now and we cannot play the same way as we used to.
“The ideal is always to play in a high block, to recover the ball very, very fast, to have the ball to build well and to be proactive and not reactive. We are doing that to a point as in every game we always have a big percentage of the ball, but we are not always using it in the proper way -- especially when people close down the ball as quickly as Everton and Fulham. This is something we have to cope with.”