Delegates not wined and dined, suggests angry Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has launched a remarkable attack on the Football Association delegates who have graded his Chelsea team the worst in the Premier League for respecting referees, claiming they had spent too long in hospitality and not enough time watching the game.
At his press conference yesterday Mourinho first joked that the former players who score clubs for the Premier League fair play table had not been sufficiently wined and dined by Chelsea.
Then when he was reminded that standards at his club are fairly high in that respect he suggested the opposite was the case, and that the delegates had been spending too much time eating and drinking.
He saved his greatest contempt for FA delegate Steve Greaves, who exonerated Ashley Barnes for his tackle on Nemanja Matic in the draw with Burnley in February.
"The only one (delegate) I met was the one - was the phenomenal guy who made the report on the Matic situation. And that one, for sure, had sushi, lobster, everything. Champagne of high quality. Cristal. Everything."
Chelsea have been graded the worst in the Premier League for their attitude towards referees, according to the latest fair play table which assesses clubs in a number of different categories.
They were second only to Sunderland when it came to the bad behaviour of their officials on the touchline. The reports are written by the same delegates who assess the referee's performance.
Mourinho took particular exception to the report on the Burnley game by Greaves, later leaked, in which the former player agreed with the key decisions made by referee Martin Atkinson and even questioned whether it would have been right to dismiss Barnes for the challenge on Matic.
Asked what he would be telling the Chelsea catering department to be offering the delegates in future, Mourinho replied: "Bread and water." On whether he was worried about his team's position in the fair play table, Mourinho said: "It's not true. I know that a lie repeated and repeated, there is a risk for it to become true in people's eyes. But I disagree. I think a lie is a lie."
He said he believed the low marks were motivated by jealousy.
Chelsea face Manchester United at Stamford Bridge this evening and will take a major stride towards the club's fourth Premier League title should they win. In contrast to the injury problems of United manager Louis van Gaal - missing Michael Carrick, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Phil Jones - Chelsea striker Loïc Rémy is likely to be fit again.
Mourinho dismissed Van Gaal's injury problems, saying his former mentor had an "amazing squad" and pointed out that it has been more difficult for Chelsea under financial fair play regulations.
While Mourinho has been forced to sell the likes of David Luiz, Juan Mata and André Schürrle in order to buy, United's greater financial power has meant they can spend without restraint.
"Yes, it's easier (for United)," Mourinho said. "It was easier before at Chelsea. Easier, yes. But I think it's more fun like this. More difficult, of course - we sold a lot of players, not just one."
As for the title race itself, Mourinho has been adamant that his team will not simply settle for a point against United and then Arsenal a week tomorrow.
As things stand they require 11 points to win the title, although that would change if results go against his rivals. Mourinho denied that the Premier League had been boring with Chelsea top all season and said that it was "more difficult than ever" to win.
"There is different kinds of dominance - I think dominance is the distance of points (between the leader and challengers), and I don't forget that we were always top of the league but we went to eight points (clear), and then down to zero. And then, because we scored a late goal against Tottenham, we kept the leadership by one goal, on level points from Man City."
There was also an unexpected defence of Manuel Pellegrini, who Mourinho considered had been given "hell" for his team's collapse in the title race.
"On the one hand you want that competitiveness in this country. You don't like a team to win two titles in a row, a team to be dominant, you want lots of teams fighting for the title.
"So how can you be so negative with a team that's won two titles in three years? Okay, they won't win this title this year, but they did last year. Some managers don't win and life goes on, but the guys at Man City, it's like they're criminals." (© Independent News Service)