Cesc Fàbregas was the player chosen to attend Monday's pre-match press conference alongside Jose Mourinho. Fàbregas spoke first. That he echoed a much the same thoughts that Mourinho later said to the media as well indicates that the players are receiving the message loud and clear. (Now they just have to put it into the action, which, obviously, has been the crucial missing part.)
"It's not complacency. It happened to Manchester City a bit last season. Maybe it is mental, something inside you, but this team works well. The manager would never allow us to be complacent."
"We are training well, motivated. Maybe things are't going the way we want at the moment, but I'm sure we can turn it around. Tomorrow -- Champions League, Porto away -- is a great moment to do that. If we want to start playing as well as we did last season, we have to start performing in big games like tomorrow."
In a way, this match shouldn't even really matter. Sure, under normal circumstance, it would be a nice win to have, but even zero points would leave us in good position to win the qualifying group. Unfortunately, these aren't normal circumstances. We need the positive vibes. Not for the Champions League — we should win the group just on the back of matchday 1 results — but for the Premier League.
"Well, whatever happens inside the dressing room is not for talking about in here. Obviously, we have to improve. It's not about the coach telling us things or for him to be upset that we have to perform. We have to perform because we are winners, we play for Chelesa (sic), and we want to perform every game. Not because the manager comes to us and is upset. It has to come from us."
"We are not babies. We are not players who started playing right now. It's true we have a young squad, but that's no excuse. We won the league last year. There's no reason why we shouldn't do it again this year. We have to start performing again from now."
I'm sure Fàbregas realizes that he's one of those who needs to start performing on a consistent basis. He's only supposed go to MIA in second halves of seasons! But another player we desperately need back to his best is Diego Costa. And not just his feisty best, but his goalscoring best.
"He's frustrated, obviously, and rightly so. We all know the causes [of] why he is. Some people understand it, some people don't. It's very unfair what happened to him."
"Apart from that, he's a key player for us, our striker, a player who has to score our goals and finish our combinations. We expect a lot from him. If you want to win this competition we all have to be at the top of our game, but you need your big players to perform. He's one of them, for sure."
Diego will be back tonight. My guess is that Fàbregas starts well. Three points and a good performance from them and the rest of the team would be a fantastic development.