Jose Mourinho fears he may have made a rare misjudgement that
threatens to undermine Chelsea's attempt to win all four major
Mourinho prides himself on his attention to detail and his
meticulous planning has laid the foundations for Chelsea to land
back-to-back Premiership titles.
But the Portuguese coach is worried that his decision to chose
quality over quantity has left his defence short of experienced
back-up as they enter the busiest part of the season.
Mourinho allowed William Gallas and Robert Huth to leave
Stamford Bridge in pre-season because he felt the addition of
versatile Dutch defender Khalid Boulahrouz would provide sufficient
cover for his back-four.
However, Boulahrouz has endured a torrid time as he adapts to
life in the Premiership and Paulo Ferreira and Geremi have fared
little better, forcing Mourinho to use Ghana midfielder Michael
Essien as a makeshift defender several times.
That would be less of a problem if England captain Terry wasn't
struggling with a persistent back problem that sidelined him for
Sunday's win at Everton and could keep him out again when Chelsea
face Newcastle in the League Cup quarter-final at St James' Park on
With Chelsea competing for the Premiership as well as the
Champions League and FA and League Cups, Mourinho knows he cannot
afford to be caught short if injuries and suspension take their
A move for a defender looks certain when the transfer window
opens in January and he said: "It was a bit risky to face the
season with only three central defenders because in the past we
always had Carvalho, Terry, William Gallas and Robert Huth.
"Because Terry has not been injured for the past two seasons, we
felt the fourth central defender was not playing a lot.
"But this season, John is having a few problems. He was
suspended for a couple of games, then he was injured when we played
Fulham and again yesterday. It means we are short of a player."
Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder is counting on Nolberto Solano
recovering from a groin-strain in time to face Chelsea as an injury
crisis has left him with just two fit senior defenders.
Former Chelsea left-back Celestine Babayaro is suspended and
Craig Moore, Steve Carr, Titus Bramble and Olivier Bernard are all
Teenager Paul Huntington, who made his first Premiership start
in last week's 1-0 league defeat at Chelsea, is likely to play out
of position at left-back, with Steven Taylor and Peter Ramage
filling the centre-half roles.
"At this moment I only have two experienced defenders in Taylor
and Ramage," Roeder told the Newcastle Chronicle.
"Young Huntington has kept things nice and simple and I am
delighted with what he has done.
"We still need another defender and Nobby's 60-40, and if he
does not make it for Wednesday night he will be out there against
Spurs at St James' Park on Saturday.
"The same applies to Emre. He has a very sore ankle but says he
has a good chance of playing against Chelsea."
Chelsea have lost four of their last five visits to St James'
Park and are without a win there in five years.
Newcastle midfielder Kieron Dyer believes his side can extend
that impressive record on Wednesday and he told Sky Sports:
"Chelsea showed why they are champions at the weekend, they were
magnificent. But we have got a decent record against them at
"We knocked them out in the FA Cup one year and beat them on the
last game of last season, so we will go into the game full of
confidence and if we get a result we can be just one game away from
(China Daily December 20, 2006)