EPL 2016-17: Thibaut Courtois believes Chelsea's slump last season was not just Jose Mourinho's fault
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has come out and said that Blues’ poor performances last season were not completely Jose Mourinho’s fault. Chelsea fell apart in the opening stages of last season and many in the footballing world heavily criticized Mourinho for the London-based club’s poor run of form. Mourinho was sacked after Chelsea lost 9 of their opening 16 games and was replaced by interim boss Guus Hiddink.
The Belgian International Courtois, however, has said recently that managers often bear the brunt of such situations, when in fact, it should be the players who must be held responsible.
Courtois recalled Mourinho fondly, saying that he was the manager who gave him his chance at Chelsea although Petr Cech was also in the squad. "He gave me a chance to play at Chelsea, he's a top manager," he said while speaking to the Daily Mail.
"Sometimes it's not only the manager, but he's the first one that people look at. You see it everywhere in football, when results are not there then the first guy who has to go is the manager. It's not always the managers; sometimes it's also the players who we have to blame,” said Courtois
He further suggested that Chelsea’s fitness and poor pre-season was in fact the reason that they were not “on the same level” as the season they won the Premier League.
“I don't think we as a team last year were on the same level as the year we were champions,” he said.
"It is not only about the manager. But obviously the club has to make a decision at one point and they decided to let him go. We decided to play and finish the season as well as we could but we were 10th. That's obviously very bad for Chelsea," he added.
Hazard's playing very well: Courtois
This season though, under new Italian boss Antonio Conte, Chelsea have found their groove and currently sit at the top of the Premier League table. Courtois was quick to praise the new bass and point out and explain how well the 3-4-3 system has suited Chelsea,
"It's a hard system to play against," he said. "If you do it well and train it every day -- and we train hard at it. You can see that in the games that everyone knows what to do, where to run and when to pressure.
"In a back three, which in defence goes to a back five almost, when one guy goes out to pressure, you still have four to cover. You are bit more covered in defensive situations so it's harder for opponents to get through.”
"With wing-backs, it's hard for their winger or full back to defend the wing back because he's always in between them both. So it's hard to know when to go out”
He also highlighted how Eden Hazard and Pedro are contributing well to the system, “When he[the opposition winger or full back] does go out, then Eden [Hazard] can go and Pedro can go on the back of the left back or the right-back.”
He also praised Eden Hazard’s performances this season and has said that the system is suiting his Belgian team-mate well. "[Hazard's] playing very well and obviously he has more freedom in attacking situations. Sometimes when we recovered the ball last season he had to come from the back and now he's already higher up the pitch. So his actions can lead more to goals and assists and that's maybe the biggest change."