BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is relishing the prospect of a Premier League Christmas, a period he said on Monday that only the brave could survive.
Mourinho, speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League tie at Basel, also made light of Tottenham Hotspur’s 6-0 rout by Manchester City on Sunday.
The Portuguese said it was better than losing six games by a single goal and showed why the Premier League was the envy of La Liga and the Bundesliga.
Chelsea face nine matches in December and Mourinho is hoping the Group E leaders can ease the pressure by wrapping up qualification for the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday.
A draw at Basel, who are third in the table and trail the Londoners by four points, would do the trick with one match to spare and make the December game at home to Steaua Bucharest less important.
“It’s a period where I think only the brave can survive because it’s hard,” Mourinho told reporters.
”At Christmas the accumulation of matches is so high. You must do it with a special group with a special mentality, enjoying the situation and forgeting you don’t have a Christmas like the Spanish players, the Italian players, the German players.
“It’s a period I like where I think the squad can play a role, not just the team,” said Mourinho who is in his second spell with Chelsea.
”I enjoyed it when I was in England before and missed it in Spain and Italy. If we can finish the job tomorrow we could say instead of nine matches we have eight.
“I keep repeating to the players that this is the moment where everybody has a chance to feel important and has a chance to show what they can do, even the people who don’t play a lot will of course play in this period.”
Mourinho refused to rule out Tottenham as title rivals as he moved on to discussing Premier League matters and his recent haircut.
“I don’t remember one round of fixtures when all of the six title contenders all won and next week somebody will lose points again - that’s the Premier League,” he said.
”That’s why in Spain people complain the championship is not good, that’s why in Germany they are complaining the championship is not good.
”We should not complain about our Premier League, we should say that it is the best championship in the world.
“It’s better to lose one game 6-0 than lose six matches 1-0,” added Mourinho. “It’s better even if it hurts more.”
To laughter around the room, he said he had cut his own hair.
“I asked Fernando (Torres) to give me his machine. I did it myself in front of the mirror - it’s cheap,” explained Mourinho with a big grin.
“I sent a picture before I arrived home to see if I could get in. Yes, no problem.”
Spain striker Torres is available again on Tuesday following an adductor muscle problem but Brazil defender David Luiz is out with a knee injury.
Playmaker Juan Mata has been out of favor but looks likely to return against Basel.
“I can’t start matches with 12, 13 or 14 players which I would love to do because many people deserve to play and Juan is one of them with the way he works, the way he behaves and the way we see him every day,” said Mourinho.
“But if I played him people would be asking me about not playing (Eden) Hazard or Oscar and for these three positions behind the striker we have so many options.”
Editing by Tony Jimenez