Jose Mourinho's handling of Juan Mata has helped raise the Spaniard's game and Chelsea's, Ray Wilkins said after their Romanian rout in the Champions League.
The Blues boss has come under fire for restricting Mata's involvement in recent weeks but the midfielder was back in the starting XI for Tuesday's tie at Steaua Bucharest and was instrumental in steering his side to a 4-0 triumph.
It was a perfect tonic for the London club who stumbled to a shock 2-1 defeat by Basel at Stamford Bridge in their opening Champions League Group E game.
"Mata is an exceptional player and I don't see anything he's doing now that's different to what he was doing before," Wilkins, Chelsea assistant boss 2008-10, told Sky Sports.
When you're playing away from home it's important to take the game away from the opposition. Somewhere like Romania isn't easy and it's a big atmosphere. I was very impressed with them
Quotes of the week
"Jose has just stirred him up a touch and it was his pass that led to the first goal by Ramires. He has so much ability and if Jose gets more out of him then it's all well and good.
"Jose is always asking questions of his players and that's the only way to be. If you're trying to improve yourself as a coach then you want your players to do the same. It's evident that Jose has wound them up and they all want to be there. The squad is so big and tasty it's difficult to get a game."
After Ramires' opener midway through the first half, the visitors were able to settle and doubled their lead just before the interval thanks to Daniel Georgievski's own goal.
A lively Ramires added a third in the second period and Frank Lampard made it four late on to kick-start their quest for a spot in the knock-out stages.
"Chelsea were very professional," Wilkins added. "They had to come out in the second half and be professional and that's exactly what they did. With 15 minutes to go it was almost a 5-a-side game or a testimonial game.
"When you're playing away from home it's important to take the game away from the opposition. Somewhere like Romania isn't easy and it's a big atmosphere. I was very impressed with them."
Germany's international forward Andre Schurrle was dominant with his marauding runs on the left wing and he is one player to have built a strong relationship with his new manager judging by the pair's touchline embrace after the first goal.
"Schurrle had a very good game," Wilkins said about the striker brought from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen for £18m in June.
"He was very direct and this is what he was like in Germany. He's a top signing and was great down the left side. Mourinho said [in his post-match interview] he was good at defending so you can see what type of thing he's after from his players."
Post to your View!
Be the first to post a comment on this story