LONDON, May 5 – Cesc Fabregas rates Jose Mourinho as the best manager for whom he has played and claims the Portuguese boasts an “edge” that sets him apart from others such as Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola.
The Chelsea midfielder celebrated his first Premier League title this weekend to cap a hugely successful first campaign back in English football after a three-year spell with Barcelona, initially under Guardiola.
Fabregas’ only previous major honour in this country had been the 2005 FA Cup with Wenger’s Arsenal.
The £28m signing is confident the league trophy, which will be celebrated with a victory parade 24 hours after Chelsea’s final game of the season, will prove the first of many in a new era at the London club.
Fabregas is, a strong candidate to become the team’s vice-captain if, as expected, Petr Cech moves on this summer, praised the Mourinho effect as integral to this season’s success at Stamford Bridge.
“He just loves winning,” he said. “I’m not saying other managers I have played under don’t but he has some edge that goes above anyone else I have ever been with.
The mentality shows in every single training session, every game. I now understand why he has won what he has in his career.”
“He knows how to manage a team, knows how to get the best out of you, and that’s what you want from a manager 100%. A manager who can motivate a player every three days when you play 60 games in a season – that’s not easy, trust me.
Everyone thinks we have a big squad but we don’t. We have maybe 22 players and some of those are from the academy and under-21s.”
“So it’s not easy. He actually is doing a fantastic job. He’s the best manager and has to get results but always manages to do that with any squad he’s coached. He manages to make his team champions and that’s the sign of a real winner.
Obviously you need someone behind it all which is the manager who, every single day, makes sure you are top of your game. Even, I remember when we went to Shrewsbury or when Bolton came to Stamford Bridge in the Capital One Cup. There’s no game where he allows complacency to creep in and that helps: when you know if you don’t perform in training, if you don’t perform in a game where everyone thinks it is going to be easy, you don’t play. Definitely, that helps.”
The Spain international gave the team-talk in the dressing room on Sunday before the victory over Crystal Palace which secured Chelsea their first title in five years, an indication of the esteem in which he is held within the squad.
Cech, who has been reduced to Thibaut Courtois’ understudy this season, is expected to leave after 11 years at the club – there is interest from Arsenal, Internazionale and Paris Saint-Germain – meaning an understudy to John Terry will be appointed this summer.
Fabregas is effectively competing with Gary Cahill for the role given Didier Drogba will also be out of contract.
Chelsea expects to make some additions this summer and interest has been registered with Atlético Madrid for Fàbregas’s compatriot Koke.
The underused left-back Filipe Luís could return to his former club as part of any deal for the attacking midfielder.
Yet Fàbregas is convinced the current team can continue to progress.
“Hopefully it will be the start of a new era,” said Fàbregas, who turned 28 on Monday. “It is a new team even if we have the likes of John, Didier, Petr,
(Branislav)Ivanovic and Mikel (John Obi) who have been a long time, but the new players will now feel this winning mentality which can go on for a long time.
“I have always said, since the beginning of the season, that it is a very young, talented team and that as well is one of the causes that made me sign for the club.
Potentially this team can be one of the best in Europe. And the manager still makes me feel things that I didn’t feel for a while: he allows me to play and gives me confidence.”
“Winning this title is up there with getting 100 points with Barça to win La Liga. I feel important and that’s what you want as a player. You want to feel part of it and that’s what I’m doing at Chelsea.”