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Mourinho gives Courtois verdict, Cech expectations

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Laurence Griffiths

For just the second time since opening day 2004, Chelsea started the season without Petr Čech in goal.  Unlike 2006 however, when Big Pete was finishing his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery and was replaced by Carlo Cudicini temporarily, this time feels a bit more final.  Mourinho chose to go with young super-talent Thibaut Courtois, a move that surely wasn't just decided by a coin flip.

Despite the conceded goal -- one that may not have been saved even if we had both goalkeepers standing back there -- Courtois was steadily impressive, especially in the air.  On the TV, Martin Tyler's co-commentator Danny Mills couldn't stop talking about the "8-foot" wingspan.  But what's the boss's verdict on the 22-year-old's first Premier League appearance and, by extension, his own decision to initiate a changing of the guard at the position that has practically become shorthand for Petr Čech?

"I do not like to say it is for the rest of the season. He was the first choice today and he played well enough to be my first choice in the next game but, when you have a top professional like Petr, if you do not perform you are in trouble. I am not in trouble, Chelsea are not in trouble. I am safe, Chelsea are safe."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Telegraph

Of course, Mourinho might not be able to have his cake and eat it, too.  Keeping two world class goalkeepers happy and rearing to go at a moment's notice if needed is a task that may be beyond even his fairly sizable man-management skills.

"[Čech] didn't ask [to leave] and I hope he does not ask. I want to keep him and hopefully he stays. No player is happy when not playing every game. Sometimes they are not happy when you give them a rest and rotate."

"I do not know one player not unhappy when not playing but I have known Petr for 10 years. He will not relax and say, 'I have no chance'.  He will be exactly the opposite so I expect him on Wednesday to go to the training ground and be a top professional and go back to work."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Telegraph

Well that certainly is the ideal, "professional" scenario.  I suppose we'll find out soon enough how close reality comes to matching that.

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