Jose Mourinho has questioned how many “serial champions” there are at Chelsea as they bid to find some momentum in Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Porto.
Chelsea produced a stirring second-half comeback to recover from 2-0 down at Newcastle United on Saturday and claim a 2-2 draw.
Mourinho’s men have taken just eight points from seven games in their defence of the Premier League title, leaving the Portuguese to cast doubt on the mentality of many in his squad and hint at dropping senior players if Chelsea eventually have nothing to play for.
He said: “There are two sorts of champions. There are those who win something, and there are lots of them.
“But there are the other champions who, during their career, win one, two, three, four, five, 10 or 20 titles.
“In this club we have 25 champions from last year, but serial champions in this squad? John Terry, Jon [Obi] Mikel and [Branislav] Ivanovic are serial champions. Almost every season they have something in the pocket. But how many other serial champions do we have?
“Last year we were champions, but the point for me is are we serial champions? Of course it’s very difficult to win every season, but you can be a serial champion in your approach and your attitude.
“Mentally I can say I am a serial champion. I can be five or 10 years without winning a title, but I will still be a serial champion in my approach and my attitude. This is the problem we have at this moment. We have champions, but not serial champions.
“At this moment it’s difficult to win the Premier League, but possible. It’s difficult to win the Champions League, but possible. It’s difficult to win the cups, but possible.
“I’ve explained to the players that when the situation is open, I have to try and prepare the kids for their future and, at the same time, bring the best out of the players with more experience.
“But if the season becomes ‘closed’ and we can’t win trophies, I will go just with the kids instead.
“It makes no sense to play the older players when you have nothing to win. But at the moment, everything is open.”