Thibaut Courtois has said Jose Mourinho was not the only one to blame for Chelsea’s problems last season and that the players were not at the same standard as the year before when they won the Premier League title.
Mourinho was sacked after Chelsea lost nine of their opening 16 league games of the season, before the side rallied to finish in mid-table under Guus Hiddink.
But Belgium international Courtois remembers Mourinho fondly after the Portuguese made him Chelsea’s No. 1.
“He gave me a chance to play at Chelsea, he’s a top manager,” Courtois told 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. I don’t think we as a team last year were on the same level as the year we were champions.
“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.”their feet under new manager Antonio Conte since switching to a three-man central defensive system with wing-backs and have now won five games in a row without conceding.
Courtois is happy with the effects of the change both defensively and on attacking players like Eden Hazard and Pedro.
“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 guys 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; and when he does out then Eden [Hazard] can go and Pedro can go on the back of the left back or the right-back.
“[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.”

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