Steve Holland believes Chelsea looked back to their best in the second-half as Jose Mourinho’s side beat Newcastle 2-0 to go two points clear at the top of the table.
The Blues fell well below their own high expectations during the first half at Stamford Bridge but goals from Oscar and Diego Costa sealed all three points after the break. And Holland revealed Mourinho had stern words with his players at the interval.
"Jose was quite clear in what he wanted the team to do at halftime," Holland told Sky Sports. "We had to show more personality with and without the ball. But he wanted the team to be more compact, to press the ball higher up the pitch, to recover the ball more, to sustain more attacks and to improve throughout the side."
Holland added: "And I think he got that in the second half — it was a much-improved performance, mentally as much as anything else. We looked more like the Chelsea side people are used to seeing on a week-by-week basis."
Holland, who was speaking to Sky Sports in place of Mourinho, admitted Newcastle caused the league leaders plenty of problems at Stamford Bridge.
"Some credit to Newcastle in the first half," he said. "John Carver and Steve Stone did a good job in setting them up today. They were good opposition — dangerous, and in the first half they had some moments where they caused us problems. But a much-improved performance in the second half and I think in the end we were good value for the 2-0 win."
Chelsea moved to points clear of Manchester City after the champions were held to a 1-1 draw at Everton and that gap could prove to be vital with the two sides set to clash on Jan. 31. While Holland knows the top-of-the-table clash is important, he insists Chelsea won’t look too far ahead in the title race.
"It won’t define where we finish and who lifts the trophy at the end of the season — it’s too early," he added. "But, clearly, the games against the teams you’re competing with are important. Our only focus at the moment is the next game — I know it’s a cliché but it’s the only way to work."