José Mourinho claimed Cesc Fábregas was misused by Barcelona and hailed his impressive Chelsea debut as confirmation of why the former Arsenal captain was his first choice midfield target this summer.
The £30m signing shone on his first Premier League start for Chelsea as Burnley were beaten 3-1 at Turf Moor with goals from his fellow debutant Diego Costa, Andre Schürrle and Branislav Ivanovic. Mourinho also gave a first Premier League start to the goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois at the expense of Petr Cech but denied the selection would lead to the 32-year-old’s departure from Stamford Bridge.
Burnley had taken an early lead through Scott Arfield but, with Fábregas involved in all three Chelsea goals, including an exquisite pass for Schürrle’s second, Mourinho insisted the midfielder would give his team a new dimension this season.
“The team played very well but I agree with Cesc being man of the match because he and [Nemanja] Matic controlled the game and dictated the intensity of it,” said the Chelsea manager. “They decided how to control the pace. They were both good brains in this team and I am happy with that because last season we could not control the game as we controlled [it] today.”
Asked how he felt at the arrival of Fábregas, Mourinho added: “When the players are your first choice it is very difficult to make a mistake. Fábregas was our first choice for that position. I know clearly what the player is because we were so long in the same league.
“He moved to Spain also, so for the last 10 years we have been in the same league for six or seven. I know exactly what he will bring. For Barça he was the fake nine, the number ten and winger but I know and he knows what is his best position so he is giving exactly what we need. Quick thinking in midfield. He brings people in the same direction. I am really happy.”
Mourinho’s only gripe was a yellow card for Costa who was adjudged to have dived over a challenge from Burnley’s goalkeeper, Tom Heaton. Contact was made but Michael Oliver ruled the Spain international had exaggerated the foul. He said: “Costa last season had a fantastic season and in the Spanish league he got five or six yellow cards all year. We all explained to him what people like and do not like in the Premier League and he presents himself with a fantastic attitude, clean and polite. He has a clear penalty and yet there is no penalty and a yellow card so I hope he does not get more unfair decisions. I think Oliver had a good game but the linesman did not support him on this occasion.”
Chelsea’s captain, John Terry, said the team “hoped to win the league this season” and Mourinho admitted their reaction to falling behind was key to the opening victory.
He explained: “I think we had a good reaction and in first part of that reaction is that emotionally we were not affected by the goal conceded.
“We conceded a goal and kept playing according to the way we are training. We were calm, never lost composure or the football idea and after that we had a fantastic 25 minutes with three goals, especially the second one – a fantastic goal. It was a penalty, the linesman decided not to give and in the second half we had control. I was a bit afraid because we are not in top physical form to play for 90 minutes so we lost attacking appetite. We deserved the three points against a side that will give a fight to every team that comes here.”