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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 30, 2006

Mourinho backs mis-firing Shevchenko

Jose Mourinho insists there is 'a clear improvement' in Andriy Shevchenko's game.

The Chelsea coach is playing a patient game with the £30million striker, who was left frustrated in the 1-0 victory against Bolton.

Shevchenko suffered another blank and has scored only three goals in 13 league games following his move from AC Milan.

Mourinho has told the Ukrainian's critics to back off.

He said: 'The most difficult position to play is striker. They live on statistics, how many goals, how many assists.

'Thierry Henry, I am told, scored one goal in 12 matches when he moved to Arsenal from Juventus.

'It is not easy to adapt. Italian football is different to English football even though we play much the same system as AC Milan.

'Shevchenko is making a clear improvement. He is very alive on the field as he showed against Bolton.

'He is making penetrating moves and runs. He is also becoming more adept at pressing opponents when the team loses the ball.'

Shevchenko nearly found the target in first-half stoppage time with a blistering shot that goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen superbly tipped over the top.

Michael Ballack took advantage of some slack marking when Frank Lampard swung in the corner to head the winner.

Chelsea remain three points adrift of Manchester United but Mourinho is relaxed about the situation and Shevchenko's overall contribution to the cause.

He said: 'It was a very positive performance by Shevchenko.

'To be honest I do not care about goals, I judge players on other items.

'He can be frustrated because such a beautiful shot normally brings a goal.

'He knows the way I think about football. I will support him the maximum I can.

'I cannot wait for the future when we will see the best of Shevchenko.'