Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho has revealed his admiration for Steve Clarke and how Hazard will bounce back after being dropped against Schalke due to disciplinary reasons ahead of their match against West Brom.

FC Internazionale Milano vs AS Bari - Serie A 2009/2010Chelsea have been in a good run of form in recent times, despite their recent loss at the hands of Newcastle United. They bounced back from that defeat with a big win against Schalke in the Champions League. The Blues will host West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge today and this could be a big opportunity for them to cut down on the five point lead at the top as Arsenal face Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho will come up against a West Brom side who are currently being managed by Steve Clarke. The Chelsea manager has a strong relationship with Steve Clarke, as the 50-year-old has formerly worked as assistant manager for Mourinho during his first stint at the London club. The Portuguese mastermind has talked about his admiration for Steve Clarke ahead of this game and how this will be a ‘strange’ experience for him.

“Of course I’m very happy to meet him before and after the match. It will not be the same thing to play against Steve than to play against any other manager because he is a special guy in my career. We have stayed in touch but didn’t speak about our jobs directly.

“He had a very good experience as a player and an assistant manager. He was always very focused and very organised. When he became manager for the first time he was very well prepared and I knew that he would do very well. I am so happy for Steve. He knows that every match he plays I am wishing he will win, but not tomorrow, which is strange.

“During the match it will be hard for us because he is very good and he organises his team very well, defensively and in counter-attacks. They are always a difficult team – this season we have a simple example of that: they stopped Arsenal winning and they won at Old Trafford.” – The Chelsea manager told the press.

A lot was made of Eden Hazard’s absence from the squad which faced Schalke in the midweek Champions League clash. The Belgium international was dropped despite being fit and this raised a lot of questions in the press. Mourinho answered all those queries ahead of this game as he disclosed how Hazard traveled to France without permission and lost his passport in the process. He was dropped due to disciplinary actions. Hazard has apologized to the club for his actions and Mourinho is confident that the winger will be able to put it behind him.

“He reacted well, he apologised to me and to the club. It’s over now. He has the appetite to play because he loves to play football and I didn’t allow him to play the last game. I am happy he is back.

“Every player knows me, and they know that for me the group is more important than the player, and the group principles are more important than even a football result. He is a good kid, he knows he made a mistake and now the case is over.” – Mourinho revealed.

Mourinho also praised his side for their performance against Schalke in the Champions League and how they bounced back from the defeat at the hands of Newcastle United.

“The result and the performance against Schalke were not spectacular but it was solid, and it comes at the right moment. The team reaction was what I wanted. We didn’t have the best start, but the reaction was very good.

“Every time we lost the ball we had 11 players fighting to recover it quickly, we were not sitting back and waiting for the ball, and when we recovered the ball we were always aggressive and fast. The team went in the same direction that they were going in before Newcastle, when we got good results and we were building the principles of our play.

“I just want to influence their mentality by making them tougher and stronger, more professional and more ambitious. If they have that right mentality, which they showed against Schalke, it will obviously make them stronger.” – He told the press.

Fernando Torres has been in good form recently, but his injury has halted his progress and Jose Mourinho feels the Spaniard will return after the International break.

“Fernando is recovering well. We think normally, if things go the right way, he should be in the condition to be back after the international break.” – The Portuguese manager said.