Jose Mourinho launched a passionate defence of his Chelsea team on Friday, two days after elimination from the Champions League in acrimonious circumstances by Paris Saint-Germain.
The Premier League leaders, who are at home to Southampton on Sunday, were knocked out on away goals after extra time despite the fact that PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic had been sent off as early as the 31st minute.
Ibrahimovic accused Chelsea players of behaving like “babies” by crowding around the referee once the Swede had fouled Brazilian play-maker Oscar. The inference was that they had tried to influence the official, a tactic captain John Terry insisted afterwards was perfectly legitimate and that had also been employed by the opposition.
Mourinho, who claimed after the reverse fixture with Southampton, a 1-1 draw on December 28 last year, that there was a conspiracy amongst domestic referees to punish his side unfairly, was adamant that Chelsea were no more guilty of that than any other Premier League club.
“If my players surround the referee, we are charged,” he said. “We have to pay a fine and if we do that, the players pay the fine. At this moment we have eight months of competition, we have been charged once and we paid for that. It’s as simple as that.
“Go to the Premier League and see how many teams are charged. The only thing I know is Chelsea were charged once. It is my responsibility to train the players and help them cope with the pressure.
“The people that were out of the Champions League on Wednesday are the same people that won the League Cup and the same people that are going to win the Premier League. It is the same people.”
Mourinho also rounded on television pundits Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness after the ex-Liverpool players had been highly critical of Chelsea’s performance and behaviour.
“Maybe because of diet and maybe the quality of the products we are eating, memories are getting shorter,” said. “Because when Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness speak about it, it’s because they are having a problem for sure.
“Just to close the chapter on the Champions League, the game finished and I was in the tunnel. One by one – not just the players but the coaches and everybody from PSG – I shook their hands. I told them they deserved it. I wished them good luck for the future.
“This was the way we behave after a defeat. This is the example my players get after a defeat. I went to my dressing room, I put everybody together – not just the players – and because I am normally very calm and deserve to go home and reflect and think and speak without any doubt or emotion, this is what we did.
“We also spoke in that moment about our future: to try and win the Premier League and, if we do that, a season with a Premier League and a Capital One Cup is a brilliant season.
“This is the way I am, the way I work. I’m not like people want me to be, or like people like to describe me. Jamie stopped playing a couple of years ago and, in two years, he forgets everything he did on the pitch. Mr Souness also, but he stopped playing a long times ago. I coached Benfica, I know a lot about him, so much about him. But I prefer to laugh. Envy is the biggest tribute that the shadows do to the man. It’s about life.”
Mourinho’s faith that Chelsea will go on to win the league is based on the fact they possess a five-point lead over Manchester City and also have a game in hand. But he also insisted he would be happy if City, who trail 2-1 to Barcelona, progressed in the Champions League, or if they could not then Arsenal, who lost their last 16 first leg 3-1 at home to Monaco, should survive instead.
“I wish Manchester City and Arsenal do better than us,” he said. “I wish England goes to the quarter-final with both teams or at least one of them. The only thing we could do for English football this season was 16 points to support the coefficient. We couldn’t do more than that.
“What we can do now for ourselves and our club is win the Premier League – 11 matches to play, only one competition. Our situation is good. It’s better than anyone else’s. Everybody would love to be in our position. This is what we want to do. Yesterday I closed with the players the chapter on the Champions League. The only thing we want to speak about the Champions League this season is that, if we are champions, next season we are a top seed.”