Losing to Porto in Portugal isn't the worst thing ever, though its timing certainly isn't ideal. The points dropped shouldn't affect our chances to qualify for the knockout stages (I can't even remember the last perfect group stage for Chelsea), but some of the football on display, including several individual performances, were not fairly disheartening. So one must wonder what Mourinho's watching then when he makes post-match comments like these:
"I don't think my players deserve me to be critical of them apart from the two mistakes but obviously I'm not going to point the finger. It's a difficult opponent and a difficult place to play. The Champions League brings a different emotion to matches, to the crowd and opposing players. I think the team played well."
The first half was decent enough, I suppose, but the same couldn't be said for the second. Which is when both of the major mistakes that Mourinho's referring to occurred, though we were only punished for one of them.
"It was a good performance with two ridiculous mistakes. Sometimes you make those mistakes and you are not punished, we were punished. With the second goal it's a ridiculous mistake. We watched dozens of repetitions of Porto taking corners, I thought we were completely ready for that and at a moment when the game was under control and we were preparing to make a change we conceded that goal. We had another similar mistake when they hit the post. Apart from that I thought we had balance, defensively we had no problems and the defenders played well."
"The basic thing in football is a defensive set play; the ball is there, you know the movements, control the spaces. The players reacted in a positive way and the team played for a positive result. Diego hit the bar, Ivanovic had a chance with an open goal and in the last minute it was a clear penalty (for a challenge on Kenedy). We reacted and we reacted well."
It's almost as if Mourinho's trying to play both good cop and bad cop at the same time. At least with his public comments. Beat them with a psychological stick one day, coddle them the next. Of course we don't have any real idea what his mannerisms are like behind the scenes, in the dressing room. When players do speak, they seem to be on point and echoing many of the same messages. Which is good.
What isn't good is another lackluster result, with a fair bit of lackluster play. Not to mention an incredible lack of intensity, determination, desire and all those wonderful intangible things so often associated with Mourinho's teams.
"When the team is not winning on a regular basis it's normal you have to make changes. Games like tonight are the difficult ones to analyse and make decisions after because the result doesn't mean you played badly, the mistakes we made twice doesn't mean the team defended badly. When it's a disaster it's easier to make decisions. We have to find balance. We now have two home games in the Premier League and we need to try to get good results. Good feelings, happiness, self-esteem, the players need those to play and when luck goes against you it's difficult to have those feelings."
The manager certainly tried a couple changes tonight. Outside of Willian's set piece excellence, they didn't work all that well. In retrospect, leaving Hazard out for Pedro, for example, was not a very good choice. But that's how it goes sometimes. There are no easy answers, just as there have been no easy answers all season.