Chelsea’s first-half display against Newcastle United looked for the most parts lethargic.
Chelsea may have overcome Newcastle United 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but it required an influential half-time pep talk from boss Jose Mourinho to get them over line.
The Blues went into the match looking to put their rather inconsistent festive form behind them and maintain their excellent home record.
Yet, in spite of taking a 1-0 lead heading into the half-time interval, their performance was substandard and the scars of their 5-3 defeat at Spurs arguably lingering in the back of their players’ minds.
It needed a piece of inspiration from Mourinho at half-time to up the ante, and whatever was said in the dressing room certainly worked as the West Londoners vastly improved after the break.
When asked by reporters after the game on the inspiration sparked by the Portuguese coach, his assistant Steve Holland revealed the orders laid down to the players.
“He’s a highly experienced manager who knows what to say and when to say it,” Holland told the official Chelsea website.
“He wanted the team to play further up the pitch, press further up the pitch, to be mentally more aggressive and assertive with and without the ball. He wanted us to play at a quicker tempo and sustain attacks in their half.”
The pep talk certainly did the trick as Diego Costa’s 15th goal of the season sealed a 2-0 victory, and it could have been more comfortable with numerous other late chances going begging.
The victory, coupled with Manchester City’s draw at Everton, took the Stamford Bridge outfit two points clear at the top of the Premier League table.