Juan Mata has been told to put his trust in Jose Mourinho as the Spaniard is set to be given a chance to impress in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup third round tie away at Swindon Town. Chelsea’s Player of the Year for the last two seasons has started just two matches this season and Mourinho has challenged the World Cup winner to prove a point at the County Ground. Assistant coach Steve Holland has advised players who maybe frustrated by recent team selections to have faith in Mourinho’s methods.
“They have to trust him and accept decisions for the best of the team so that everybody stays at their maximum,” he said in the pre-match press conference. “His door is always open if somebody is getting particularly frustrated, then the opportunity is there to go and talk and improve the understanding of why.”
Indeed, Holland also cited Cristiano Ronaldo as an example that Mourinho can get more out of even a player of Mata’s pedigree.
"He [Mourinho] is always pushing, pushing the players to the maximum every day," explained Holland. "That's evident not just in his teams, but in the individuals he's worked with.
"If you look Jose's three-year period working with Ronaldo, he's really evolved as an individual. He's not just a talented dribbler and runner with the ball who can score goals. He has become a top-level match-winner who wants to run in behind, make runs, threaten the goal.
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"I don't think that just happens. That comes with pushing, even if it's the best. On a day-to-day basis, he [Mourinho] will be pushing for signs of improvement, working to progress the individual but ultimately for the benefit of the team."
As well as Mata, Mourinho is also using the League Cup encounter to challenge defender David Luiz to show that he is worth a regular place in the team. Mark Schwarzer is expected to make his long awaited debut since the goalkeeper arrived on a free transfer in the summer.
After losing out in the League One playoffs last season, Swindon currently lie in mid-table after the first eight matches of this campaign. Mark Cooper has become the club’s third manager in 2013, following the exits of Paulo di Canio and his successor Kevin MacDonald. While Swindon go into the match as massive underdogs, they are unbeaten at home since February.
Swindon Town (probable)
D: Thompson, Hall, Ward, McEveley
M: Lunogo, Kasim
N’Guessan, Ajose, Pritchard
D: Azpilicueta, Kalas, David Luiz, Bertrand
M: Essien, Van Ginkel
De Bruyne, Mata, Willian
Prediction: It says much about the strength of Chelsea’s squad that they are likely to make 11 changes from Sunday’s 2-0 win over Fulham and yet still field a full team of internationals. Many of them will want to make an impression with the likes of Mata, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta all seeing their role in the squad dramatically reduced since last season.
Chelsea are still trying to find their identity under Mourinho, with a group of players not particularly suited to his playing style. But Chelsea will still have impressive quality in the line of three behind a striker and that will be enough to ensure a comfortable victory over Swindon.
Swindon 0-3 Chelsea
Where to watch: The Capital Cup third round tie will kick-off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport, with a live stream available on beIN Sport Play.