The Chelsea squad is comprised of "beautiful young eggs" that need to be nurtured if they are to become a dominant force in English and European football, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
Prior to his dismissal from Stamford Bridge in September 2007, Mourinho infamously used an analogy about shopping for eggs at a supermarket to criticize owner Roman Abramovich's recruitment policy. But when asked how his eggs are now as he prepares to take Chelsea into its first Champions League campaign since his return, the Special One had a very different response.
"Beautiful young eggs, eggs that need a mum, in this case a dad, to take care of them, to keep them warm during the winter, to bring the blankets and to work and improve them, and one day we'll arrive in a moment when the weather changes, the sun rises, we break the eggs and the eggs are ready to go for life at the top level," Mourinho told reporters.
Chelsea endured ignominy in the Champions League last season, becoming the first tournament holder to be eliminated in the group stage, courtesy of Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus. The Blues responded by winning the Europa League in Amsterdam last May, but Mourinho insists he does not consider Europe's second-tier competition an acceptable possibility this term.
"I want to try to start the group phase by winning," Mourinho said, as his side prepares to take on Swiss giant FC Basel at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. "Last season Chelsea went outside his natural habitat, which is the Champions League. Chelsea went out to a competition that is not Chelsea's competition. We don't want to do that again.
"It's important for a team of kids. It's very, very important for them to play on the big stage and the big stage is the Champions League."
Chelsea is off to its worst start to a Premier League season in a decade, but Mourinho insists this will have no bearing on the approach to European competition.
"It's Champions League we start tomorrow, zero matches, zero points," Mourinho said. "I have to focus not in the past, I have to focus in the future.
"This is a different situation. Now we have to build a team full of talented players without the experience and without the football philosophy of working together for a long time.
"No obsession for me, no obsession for Chelsea, but I want to win for the third time, I want Chelsea to win for the second time and this is the beginning of a process with the Champions League.
"No dramas. Calm and no pressure, no problem."
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