Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK Government. What was your reaction when you heard the news?
I think I’m like everybody else. I don’t know if it’s surprising or not. But obviously, there is a shock. What will be the consequences for Chelsea Football Club? I don’t know. But it’s something that I don’t want to go into details about and to comment more on because there’s not much really I can say.
You spoke last week about the impact Roman Abramovich has had on Chelsea in the Premier League in his time. Do you think about what the impact he might have on the club right now after this happened?
I don’t know. I think the future will tell us but something that you can’t take away is the impact that he has had on the Premier League and the success that he had with Chelsea, this is something that you can’t take away. So the news is the news and I think this is an issue that will concern Chelsea and there’s not really much to say about it.
What are Conor Gallagher’s thoughts on what’s going on right now?
To be honest we really don’t talk about it at all. I think his focus is to finish the season well, to finish it as well as he started. This is the main concern. We talked this morning about the tactical approach to the game that we will have on Monday. And we always say that we will sit down at the end of the season with Chelsea and with Conor and see what will be next. But we know that we have him for a year and then he is going back to Chelsea,
Does this news change the conversation you’ll be having?
We don’t know anything at the moment. We know that we have the player for a year and we will work with him for the year and then he will go back to the club that he belongs to.
Excited to go up against Man City?
It is a challenge. We will face I believe one of the best teams if not the best team in Europe. We know that the game that we had at the Etihad was a good collective game that we had and we will need to create this kind of performance again. We will have to be solid, working well together and it’s going to be about defending well as a team but, at the same time, creating those moments that will allow us to create chances and why not scoring goals – we know we are capable of doing that.
What impressed you most about that performance at the Etihad?
The way that we work as a team from the front players to the goalkeeper we were quite tight and compact. We didn’t give them a lot of space. But this is a team that always manages to score goals and manages to create chances. So yes, we will have to be at our best, we have to defend well, but we know that if we create those couple of chances that it will be important to take them, especially against a team like that.
Palace on a good run at the moment. What’s changed to make results pick up?
It’s about taking chances when we have a really good period, scoring goals, defending well as a team. Managing well the difficult period that we’re going through in games. All those kinds of moments that we went through in the last couple of months gave us more strength about how to handle a game.
Have you spoken to Michael Olise about where he sees his international future?
No this is a decision that he has to make as a player and it is a family decision. He didn’t come to me to ask me for any kind of advice. What is important for Michael is that yes, at the moment he is playing well, but his focus and concentration has to be on Crystal Palace and how to work well in training and keep performing like he’s been doing in the last couple of games.
Can you talk us through the different steps you’ve taken Michael Olise through from playing for Reading to going up against Manchester City?
When he was at Reading and talking to the manager at the time he really believed that Michael has the quality to play in the Premier League. So it was just about creating this kind of place where he can keep improving himself. We knew how good he was. He was injured when he arrived so he had a couple of difficult first months because of the injury – he couldn’t train, he couldn’t play. So he was really frustrated. But he managed to get back on the field and his work ethic is unbelievable. He is a young player who wants to spend time on the field and wants to improve himself and the more games that he plays then the more confidence he’ll get in his ability to perform at this level. He’s managed to earn the trust of his teammates and he’s in a really good place. He’s playing well, he is enjoying this football and he is good for us and for the team.
How would you describe him as a player?
He is good on the right-hand side because this is where he is feeling really comfortable. He is capable of coming inside, he’s capable of using a right foot on the line. He can combine with players around him. His technical [skills] and his intelligence allows him to play inside as well – he can do a lot of things. But now I think he has to keep being very demanding on himself and we have to keep being demanding on him to keep performing in training and to keep performing in games.
He still has a lot of parts of the game that he needs to learn. I think he can do better out of possession. I think he can improve that side of the game if he wants to be a more complete player. So we will give him the support but it is now up to him to see how far and how high he wants to go.
You said luck played a big part in beating Man City in October. How do you prepare your squad for that?
When you play a team like City you have to be nine or 10 out of 10 because of the quality of the team. Of course, you have some moments that have to go in your favour. You have to force those moments, do what it takes to allow ourselves to win. When defending we can’t afford to make mistakes because of the quality of the players they have around – we’ll get punished straight away. The game we had at the Etihad was a good collective game and we’ll need to create this kind of performance again
A few weeks ago things didn’t look so rosy but now close to the top ten and into an FA Cup quarter-final, does that show how quickly things can change?
Yes, that’s why we have never been too high when things were going well and we’ve never been too low when we didn’t have the result that we expected. It’s important for us to be consistent emotional-wise and to believe about what we are doing and how we try to do things. We know that there are still a couple of wins that we need but the process of playing and the way we want to play never changes – it has always been the same. So we have to keep believing and keep working and try to improve those details that will allow us to win more football matches.
Important now to not let things slip?
Yes but we always want to improve as a team. Players always want to improve individually. We want to challenge them and there’s a lot of players who will still have to improve some part of the game so we really have to be focusing on those details and those details if we manage to improve them will make us better as a team. The pressure has always been there from the first game so that’s never going to go away because of the Premier League and how important it is to be consistent in the performances and the result.
Have Tyrick Mitchell, Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi been playing well enough to get into the England senior squad?
They’ve been playing well enough for Crystal Palace and I’ve been really pleased with those performances. I think all the players that you mentioned are playing with a lot of confidence and belief in themselves and they’re doing really well. So now it’s for the [England] manager to make those kinds of decisions. But I think it’s really interesting for them when you mention the names. I think when they have their names on the table I think that means those players are moving forward. And this is really interesting.
Does Michael Olise have a release clause in his contract?
What I can tell you is that Michael is a Palace player and we love him and he’s happy being with us and he’s enjoying his football so hopefully he will be with us for a long, long period of time.