SEA manager Jose Mourinho resurrected his egg analogy yesterday as he lauded the benefits of Champions League football but denied winning the competition had become his obsession.
Mourinho was asked to compare his current group of players to eggs, as he memorably did six years ago on the eve of what would be the last European fixture of his first spell in charge.
On that occasion he bemoaned his inability to buy expensive players – or “class one eggs – adding: “When the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot get there, you have a problem.”
This time he seized on a reminder of that bizarre media conference, less than 72 hours before his sudden departure, to talk up some of his young players’ need for big-match experience.
“Beautiful young eggs,” he replied, when asked to describe his players. “Eggs that need a mum, in this case a dad, to take care of them, to keep them warm during the winter, to bring the blanket and to work and improve them. One day they will arrive in the moment where the weather changes, the sun rises, you break the eggs and the eggs are ready to go to the top level.
“It’s important for the club, for a team that will start the match with four players under 22. In the evolution of the players and the team it’s very important for them to play on the big stage, and the big stage is the Champions League.”
A home fixture against Swiss champions Basel is the first obstacle on a path Mourinho hopes will lead to his third Champions League winners’ medal, although he insists it is no preoccupation.
“I have no obsessions in football,” he added. “I never had. I don’t have. I don’t like my teams to have, but I want to win for the third time, I want Chelsea to win for the second time. This is the beginning of the process.”
■ 28.1: The average age of Chelsea’s starting line-up for Saturday’s defeat at Everton appears to contradict Mourinho’s often-repeated depiction of his current squad as callow youths
Ad it coming
■ Waitrose loved Mourinho’s 2007 eggs remarks so much they rushed out a newspaper advert quoting him. Unfortunately for all, it ran hours after his abrupt departure from the job