Jose'll be back soon, says ex-assistant

Chelsea fans gesturing and booing Diego Costa off the pitch as he is substituted during the 3-1 win over Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea fans gesturing and booing Diego Costa off the pitch as he is substituted during the 3-1 win over Sunderland at Stamford Bridge. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jose Mourinho will be back in management soon because big clubs want him and because he lives and breathes football, his former Chelsea assistant Steve Holland said on Saturday.

A subdued Holland, propelled into the Stamford Bridge hot seat by Mourinho's sacking on Thursday, was relieved to guide Chelsea to a 3-1 win over Sunderland in his one game in charge before interim coach Guus Hiddink takes over.

Holland believes the Portuguese would find a job sooner rather than later, saying: "Firstly, because there will be big clubs that want him and secondly because I think he's a guy who needs and wants football and he's not the sort of guy who's going to spend eight months at home doing nothing."

Holland, in his seventh season with the champions, said it had been a privilege to work with Mourinho, who in private was not the prickly individual seen on the pitch and in his post-match comments.

FANS CAN HAVE A SAY TOO

We have quality players and they care. I'm not a social media guy so I'm not sure of the exact reasons but the supporters have a right to voice their opinion.

STEVE HOLLAND, Chelsea first-team coach, on fans booing the players

He also backed Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa to win back the club's supporters after they were booed on Saturday. Fans of the west London club jeered the pair as their names were announced before the game and then when they were substituted towards the end of the match.

They also repeatedly chanted in support of Mourinho and unveiled a banner saying: "You let Jose down, you let us down."

"I told the players whatever their feelings were regarding the situation, they had a responsibility to the football club and the supporters," said Holland, who took charge of the team with Hiddink watching from the stands.

"We have quality players and they care. I'm not a social media guy so I'm not sure of the exact reasons but the supporters have a right to voice their opinion.

"I've not spoken to those players. From my point of view, I was happy with their contribution to this game and applauded them.

"If the players compete like they did today (Saturday), there will be no reason why the supporters won't be happy with that."

Goals from Branislav Ivanovic, Pedro Rodriguez and Oscar, from a penalty, saw Chelsea end a three-game winless league run against the backdrop of a peculiar atmosphere.

It was their most comfortable victory of the season - there have been only five of them in the Premier League - but it will take more than one win to purge the ill-feeling that has built up around the club during this campaign.

In one sense, it was a game that Chelsea's players could not win as, though the much-improved performance strengthened their league position, it also hardened perceptions that they had not been giving their all for Mourinho.

This strange atmosphere - not quite toxic, but certainly not something you would want to drink to - pervaded the whole afternoon and must have made things feel uncomfortable for the watching Hiddink.

Unlike Rafael Benitez's first match in charge, there was no hostility towards Hiddink - and nor should there have been, given his achievements in his previous spell - but there was no affection either.

REUTERS AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2015, with the headline 'Jose'll be back soon, says ex-assistant'. Print Edition | Subscribe