LONDON - Former England captain John Terry is performing as well in central defence as he was a decade ago, according to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
Terry scored for the second time in five days when his first-half goal, the 61st of his club career, paved the way for Premier League leaders Chelsea to beat London rivals West Ham United 2-0 on Friday.
Just as pleasingly for Mourinho, the 34-year-old gave a masterclass in the art of defending as he subdued West Ham's in-form striker Andy Carroll. "He is full of confidence," Mourinho told reporters after Chelsea kept up their 100 per cent home record in the league this season to stay three points clear at the top.
"I see my John of 2004, 2005 and 2006, I don't see any difference. The only difference is seeing his twins when they go to the training ground, they had only just been born in that period but now they are running around and kicking balls.
"John is playing so good but I always say the same, when the team is playing so well it's easy for individuals," the Portuguese added.
Mourinho, who led Chelsea to the league title in 2005 and 2006 and returned for a second stint in charge 18 months ago, said the upbeat mood at Stamford Bridge was in stark contrast to the atmosphere that characterised the end of his time with previous club Real Madrid. "Our results are good and the players are happy," he explained.
"I'm happy as a coach because the team is playing well.
"I'm happy as a guy because I love my players. It's important to feel happy with the people that surround me, it's something I missed for a while."
Chelsea, who are also through to the Champions League last 16 and League Cup semi-finals, narrowly missed out on the Premier League title last season but Mourinho believes there is a big difference in his side now. "We are a much better team when we have the ball," he added.
"Last year we were very strong defensively and very well organised but we lacked a bit of creativity when we had the ball. "The challenge this year was to bring that creativity and dynamic without losing the defensive qualities of the team."