Mourinho: Foy performance at Villa could cost us title
Jose Mourinho fears the performance of referee Chris Foy in Chelsea's recent defeat to Aston Villa could ultimately cost his club the chance of winning the title.
Mourinho's side visit Crystal Palace today as league leaders, having responded positively to the shock of defeat at Villa Park with successive victories over Galatasaray and last weekend's emphatic 6-0 crushing of Arsenal, but the manager maintains Manchester City, three points behind with two games in hand, remain favourites.
He insists that Foy's display at Villa has provided the major aberration in his side's campaign so far. The official dismissed Willian and Ramires before sending Mourinho to the stands, prompting a charge of improper conduct from the FA that Mourinho will contest at a personal hearing next week.
"The other matches we lost because we didn't play well, the opponents were better than us," he said. "At Stoke we had chances to kill the game but we didn't and lost. Newcastle played better than us in the second half.
"You find natural reasons for losing the match. Against Villa, it's difficult. What happened in the defeat at Villa I never accept."
Mourinho has been happy with his team's response to the disappointment, but believes the damage to their title chances may already have been done.
"With three points less, and the three points less you cannot recover," said the manager, who included Foy's performance in a long list of things that damage the reputation of the Premier League after being asked to comment on the suggestion by Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, that Manchester United's troubles damage the competition's brand.
"You cannot say: 'Let's play against Villa again, and with a normal refereeing performance.' The points have gone. The reaction from the team was good because the team are playing well."
Chelsea will expect to retain top spot at Palace, although Mourinho risked offering Tony Pulis a motivational tool when he claimed some of his players did not even know where they are heading to today.
"I went there (Selhurst Park) in 2004 but many of my players haven't," he said. "Some of my players don't even know where the stadium is. I do."
Mourinho praised Pulis and his players after they lost narrowly in the return fixture in mid-December and believes the Palace manager would be a worthy contender to be manager of the season if he keeps the south London club up.
"If Crystal Palace stay in the Premier League, he can feel a champion. He won his challenge, his work was very good." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
CRYSTAL PALACE V CHELSEA
LIVE, SETANTA SPORTS 1, 3.0