LONDON (Reuters) - It has not been the smoothest of returns to English football for Jose Mourinho but he saw signs in Chelsea's 3-1 comeback win over Southampton on Sunday that his players are understanding his football philosophy.
Mourinho has struggled to repeat the consistency that was the hallmark of his first spell with the London club, when he won two Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006.
But the Portuguese coach, who returned to Stamford Bridge over the summer, took encouragement from the way Chelsea recovered from conceding a goal after just 13 seconds to turn the game round with three second-half strikes.
"It's the sign of a team that is going step by step, that understands my ideas and understands my mentality," Mourinho told reporters.
"Some of them, the ones that are not completely in my mentality and my philosophy, are adapting progressively," he said.
"They must feel the responsibility of playing for Chelsea...that Chelsea cannot be in December, like it happened in a few seasons, completely out of the title race."
Chelsea have had a stop-start season and needed a controversial last-gasp penalty in their last home league game to snatch a draw against West Bromwich Albion.
Most other title challengers have dropped points too, however, and Chelsea's victory over Southampton left them in second place, four points behind Arsenal as the busy Christmas period approaches.
Mourinho claimed credit for his part in the win over a young but super-confident Southampton side who threatened to leapfrog the Londoners when Jay Rodriguez pounced on a bad backpass by Michael Essien to score almost straight from the kickoff.
Mourinho said his decision to bring on Demba Ba as a second striker alongside Fernando Torres for the second half proved a decisive factor.
"We changed to 4-4-2 and I think we gave Southampton a different game, a game they didn't expect," he said after goals by Gary Cahill, John Terry and Ba sealed Chelsea's win.
Editing by Ed Osmond