London – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has explained that he switched to a counter-attacking strategy midway through the season in order to safeguard the club's position in the Premier League's top four.
Mourinho has a reputation as a tactical pragmatist, but upon returning to Chelsea for a second stint as manager last year, he suggested he wanted to introduce a more expansive playing style.
In recent weeks Chelsea have adopted a reactive approach, which earned Mourinho criticism following their 2-0 win at Liverpool last weekend, but he says it has been the key to their success this season.
“I knew what I was doing,” the Portuguese told the Saturday editions of several British newspapers.
“We are still in a position, mathematically, to win the Premier League and in the Champions League we reached the semi-final and we had one foot in the final.
“There are moments when you have to go for the strategical point of view if you want to have a chance to compete for what we compete.
“At a certain moment, if you don't go for a bit more stability and a bit less development of a certain philosophy, it's a big risk.
“I made the decision to stop that evolution in the style and philosophy of play and I went in the direction where I felt it was the only way that, with this team and with these players, we could get results.”
He added: “It's not a cup. I don't want to get a bonus for finishing top four; no way, no way. The moment I think like that, I'm in trouble.
“There was a moment that I felt this Premier League was so dangerous that that was the big risk for every one of the big teams, to be out of the top four.”
Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League in the semi-finals by Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, but need only a point from their two remaining games – at home to Norwich City and away to Cardiff City – to secure a place in next season's competition.
They are also in contention to win the Premier League, but need both Liverpool and Manchester City to drop points if they are to finish above them. – Sapa-AFP