CHELSEA midfielder Cesc Fabregas believes the quality of football played by Jose Mourinho’s newly-crowned champions this season has eclipsed that produced by Barcelona during his time at Camp Nou.
The Blues secured their first Premier League title since 2010 with a nervy 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday, but have been unable to brush off accusations of relying on prosaic football in recent weeks.
Captain John Terry insists an increasing level of pragmatism was inevitable after a rampant start to the campaign, although he revealed that Fabregas told team-mates he rates some of their play this term higher than that of a Barca side that won the Spanish league and cup and the Club World Cup in his three-year spell, which ended last summer.
“The way we started playing football early in the season was really exciting,” said Terry.
“I can’t remember which game it was but Cesc came away and said it was the best football he’s played. He’s been at Barcelona so, for him to say that, everyone stood up and listened.
“We did play some really exciting football but teams learn and they don’t come here and open up. Teams come here at sit back and make it difficult. It then comes down to the management to find a way and he always finds a way.
“The manager and this group of players deserve an awful lot of respect for the way we’ve played.”
Terry signed a new one-year contract at Stamford Bridge in March and will lead their title defence next season, while the 34-year-old hopes his side’s latest piece of silverware will signal the start of a trophy-laden period for the club – just as Mourinho’s first Premier League title did in 2005.
“This group of players can go on and win a lot of things for the club,” added Terry. “It’s our first title together but we’ve got to come back even stronger and hungrier next year.
“It’s going to be even tougher next year because the four or five sides around us can maybe go and buy some big players in the summer and put in some real challenges.”
Ex-Arsenal skipper Fabregas has enjoyed a productive first season at Stamford Bridge having amassed 17 assists, just three shy of Thierry Henry’s all-time Premier League record in a single campaign, after returning to England following a second stint at boyhood club Barcelona.
Fabregas, who turned 28 yesterday, also hailed the impact of Mourinho, and admits the Portuguese’s insatiable appetite for winning sets him apart from than any of his previous managers.
“Hopefully it will be the start of a new era for a new team and the new players feel this winning mentality and can go on for a long time,” said the Spain 2010 World Cup winner.
“The manager just loves winning. I’m not saying that the other managers I played under don’t, but he has some edge that goes above anyone that I’ve been with.
“I now understand why he has won what he has in his career. He makes me feel things that I didn’t feel for a while. It feels like he trusts me, so for the confidence of the team and myself that is very important.”