Maurizio Sarri singled out Eden Hazard after his "wonderful" performance helped Chelsea beat Tottenham on penalties to reach the Carabao Cup final.
The Belgian drew criticism from Sarri in the build-up to the semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge but responded by firing Chelsea ahead for the first time in the tie before the Blues clinched a 4-2 victory in the shootout.
Sarri attributed Hazard's display to a change in mentality, one he would like to see continue on a consistent basis.
"I think Hazard was having fun," Sarri told his post-match press conference. "I had fun for 65 minutes watching Hazard.
"He was a little bit tired in the last part of the match, he ran a lot, but he played a fantastic, wonderful match.
"The position is not a big problem, this match we played with another mind, motivation and determination. His qualities are more important than the position."
To be fair I don't care - I just play my football and it doesn't matter what the manager says. I'm always focused on this team and I just want to do my best for this team.
Chelsea will face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on February 24, when Sarri could win the first trophy of his managerial career.
The victory comes less than a week after the Italian slammed his Chelsea players following their defeat at Arsenal.
"The last three or four matches we had a problem, the problem was the motivation and the players stopped to have fun on the pitch," Sarri added.
"Now with that performance and result we can find enthusiasm again. We need to continue this motivation. That was very important.
"The players reacted really well tonight. I was very happy with the performance before the penalties. If there had been a different outcome I would have still been happy. We deserved to win this game without penalties."