independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Jose stays quiet on AVB criticism

Fernado Torres, left, was sent off against Tottenham after repeatedly clashing with Jan Vertonghen

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho on Friday refused to respond to Andre Villas-Boas' criticism of the Football Association for failing to extend Fernando Torres' suspension.

Spain striker Torres was sent off in last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Villas-Boas' Tottenham, but avoided further sanction for his altercation with Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen.

Villas-Boas branded the FA's lack of further punishment for Torres' scratch on Vertonghen "a disgrace" and may have felt the striker's knee injury, which has seen him ruled out for three weeks, was karma.

Mourinho declined the opportunity to respond to his compatriot, merely reiterating his belief that the FA has protected the values of English football.

"I don't comment on others' opinions," Mourinho said.

"My opinion is simple. For some reason English football is English football. For some reason the Premier League is the most important championship and the most loved worldwide.

"One of the reasons is because people enjoy aggression, people enjoy emotion, people enjoy sometimes a loss of a little bit of control.

"People don't enjoy simulation. The (one) game (ban) for Fernando was more than enough, because the second yellow card came from simulation.

"I think the FA defend what is the principles and the values of English football."

Mourinho could not resist criticising Belgium defender Vertonghen when discussing Chelsea's recent run, though.

The Blues boss added: "Against Tottenham, we did a fantastic second half. We didn't win because Vertonghen did fantastic."

Torres will serve his suspension before the international break when Chelsea play at Norwich on Sunday, but the October 19 match with Cardiff and the October 22 Champions League Group E encounter with Schalke could come too soon.

He should be fit for the match with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on October 27, when there could be a further twist in the title race.

Mourinho has predicted since before the season's start that the fight for the Premier League title will be open and he believes a clearer assessment is only possible once everyone has played each other once.

"The league will be open till the end," Mourinho added.

"In this moment some teams are being helped by the fixtures, because some fixtures are more difficult than others.

"By the end of November, beginning of December, basically everybody will have played against everybody and by that moment we will find if somebody is in a better situation than others."

Mourinho's assessment of his own side suggests there is plenty of work to be done.

"We are not strong enough to be dominant every match, to win consecutively without any lost points," Mourinho said.

But he has seen signs of progress, including in Romania in the 4-0 defeat of Steaua Bucharest.

He wants to develop consistency of results and performances by changing his team's approach to become "active and not reactive".

"It's more difficult to change mentality than change tactics," Mourinho said.

The Portuguese has demanded more of his players at times this term, including Juan Mata.

He has told Kevin de Bruyne, whose performances in games and training have not been met with the manager's approval, to follow Mata's example as the forward competes for a position in which Chelsea have a wealth of options.

"Juan was in a difficult situation and he managed to understand what we need from him and he played consecutively three good games, Swindon, Tottenham and Steaua," Mourinho said.

"The kid Kevin, he has to work. He has to come in my direction. I will go in his direction too.

"He's a very good player, his time will come."

Mourinho dismissed the prospect of De Bruyne, who has been a Chelsea player since January 2012 but spent the time on loan at Genk and Werder Bremen, leaving temporarily in January.

Romelu Lukaku is on loan at Everton, a decision Mourinho does not regret despite the injury to Torres.

"One thing is to play for Everton, another thing is to play for Chelsea," Mourinho said.

Another Belgian in the Chelsea ranks is Eden Hazard, who is doubtful for the Carrow Road trip with an ankle injury, but will not be prevented from joining up with his national team if he is fit.

The absence of Torres means Samuel Eto'o should get his chance for a first Chelsea goal after an underwhelming start to his career in blue.

Mourinho said: "He needs a little bit of time to find that sharpness."

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