LONDON (Reuters) - Jose Mourinho hailed a pep talk given to the players by masseur Billy McCulloch after Chelsea wrecked Manchester City’s 100 percent home record in the Premier League this season with a 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.
Manager Mourinho was widely praised for his tactical masterplan after Branislav Ivanovic’s first-half goal secured maximum points for his side on Monday night but the Portuguese was quick to salute the contribution of the masseur.
The wise-cracking McCulloch joined the club in 2001. He is popular with the players, providing a constant source of entertainment behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge, and issued a rallying call before the game against City.
“I didn’t speak. It was Billy the masseur,” Mourinho told reporters after third-placed Chelsea joined City on 53 points, two behind leaders Arsenal.
”He was screaming ... so much I didn’t understand him. The players were clapping - okay, let’s go. It was Billy’s team talk.
“The last time I spoke to the players was at midday,” said Mourinho. “I‘m serious, Billy was fantastic. I didn’t understand but it looks like the players understood.”
Chelsea ended City’s run of scoring in 61 consecutive home league games since 2010 as Manuel Pellegrini’s team failed to find the net at the Etihad for the first time this season.
The Londoners stifled midfield dangermen David Silva and Yaya Toure with their pressing approach and were also dynamic on the counter attack with Eden Hazard, Willian and Ramires leading the way.
Belgian international Hazard was a constant threat and showed why he is starting to draw comparisons with world greats like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
”He needs to keep his feet on the ground,“ Mourinho said of the 23-year-old Chelsea winger. ”He still has to improve but he is probably the best young player in the world with legs to go there (to the level of Messi and Ronaldo).
“Give him time and Willian, (Andre) Schurrle, (Mohamed) Salah too. Give them time. They need good results and this result is very important for them.”
Gary Cahill, who shone in central defense alongside captain John Terry, described it as a “huge performance” by Chelsea.
“We worked hard. In the second half everyone put in a shift and that’s what you need to do when you go there,” said the England international.
”Everybody’s aware of their home form this season but we put in a great performance and overall I felt we deserved to win the game.
“Obviously they put pressure on us at times. They started the game really well, in the first 10-15 minutes we had to weather the storm but then we came into the game and our attacking players created a lot,” said Cahill.
“We hit the woodwork three times, had a few flash across the box and could have had more.”
Reporting by Michael Hann, editing by Tony Jimenez