Mata talks up Mourinho return
Chelsea's Juan Mata has become the latest of the club's players to talk up the prospect of Jose Mourinho returning to Stamford Bridge for a second spell as manager.
Real Madrid announced on Monday that Mourinho will leave his post at the club at the end of the season after three years in the Spanish capital and, with Rafa Benitez's interim tenure at Chelsea coming to an end, he is widely expected to come back to the west London club this summer.
Spain midfielder Mata insisted he and his team-mates did not know if they would definitely be working under Mourinho next season, but that the squad would welcome his return having won two Premier League titles during his first spell in charge.
"Jose is one of the best," Mata said at a press conference in St Louis ahead of Chelsea's two friendlies with Manchester City in the US. "He's won everything in every country he was - in Portugal, in Italy, in Chelsea in London and in Spain.
"I think we don't know really what's going to happen, but if he comes, he's welcome, because he's one of the best. Chelsea always want to be a top squad, a top side, and I think if he comes, we're all going to be happy to have him."
Mata, who was recently named Chelsea's Player of the Year for a second successive season, was at a loss to explain why things had gone so awry for Mourinho in his final year at the Bernabeu. However, like team-mates Gary Cahill, Frank Lampard and Demba Ba, he would welcome the chance to work with the Portuguese coach.
"I don't know [what went wrong]," he said. "You have to be there to understand everything. What I know is that Madrid is a massive club with a lot of pressure behind them, and I think it shouldn't be easy.
"All I can say is that if he comes, we're going to try and do our best with him, or with whoever, to win the title."
Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, who joined the club just a few months after Mourinho left in September 2007, echoed those sentiments.
''We'll see what will happen with Chelsea next,'' he said. ''For every player it's a big challenge to play for the big managers and to do everything, but all these things are with one aim - for Chelsea to be one of the best teams.''
Chelsea will play City at Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, on Thursday before Saturday's rematch in another baseball ground, New York's Yankee Stadium.