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Friday 23 February 2018

Mourinho ignores Pellegrini taunt

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, right, has refused to respond to Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini's
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, right, has refused to respond to Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini's "small team" taunt

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho declined the opportunity to respond to Manuel Pellegrini's "small team" taunt, but suggested the Manchester City manager should commit to his own vow of silence when it comes to discussing rivals.

Pellegrini was critical of Chelsea's style of play in last Sunday's Premier League draw at the Etihad Stadium, likening it to Stoke.

Mourinho said: "I don't have a reaction. I think you (the media) should, not me.

"It was not once or two or three times that he said he doesn't speak about referees. He killed Mark Clattenburg (after City's draw at Arsenal).

"It was not one, two, three, four times, he said he doesn't speak about me or my team's opponent.

"He did it once more. I think it's for you to comment. When I said I don't want to speak about him. That's what I try to do.

"If you want the story you have to speak with him not with me. I keep in my place. I follow my line."

Mourinho, sticking to his line, refused to speak about the prospect of Chelsea's record goalscorer Frank Lampard returning to Stamford Bridge on January 31 if his Manchester City loan from New York City FC is extended.

Mourinho said: "I don't speak about players from other clubs. That's not my problem.

"We have lots of former players. I don't want to speak about Frank, (Samuel) Eto'o, (Romelu) Lukaku, Ashley Cole.

"If Ashley Cole wins the group or finishes second in the Champions League group (with Roma) and if we do the same can Ashley Cole be back to Stamford Bridge to play against Chelsea?

"I don't have to speak about players from other clubs."

He also refused to comment on his relationship with Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, who will be in the opposite dugout at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The Blues boss would not discuss Roy Keane's impact as Villa assistant boss or the struggles of Louis van Gaal's Manchester United.

Diego Costa, scorer of seven Premier League goals this term, will start for Chelsea against Villa despite his hamstring travails.

Mourinho has revealed Costa can play only one game a week at present, but the Chelsea manager insists he is powerless to stop Spain calling up the striker for next month's international break.

"He plays tomorrow and he starts the game without problems," Mourinho said.

"The question is always the same: can he finish the game and be in conditions to play in Lisbon 48 hours later? It's a question that in this moment I don't know.

"In this moment I don't think about Sporting or the Champions League, I think about Aston Villa in the Premier League. He starts the game."

Spain play Slovakia on October 9 and Luxembourg on October 12, with Mourinho unable to influence a Costa call-up.

Mourinho, who traced Costa's hamstring trouble to the last international break earlier this month, added: "The moment a national team wants to select a Chelsea player I'm nobody.

"It's their decision. They can do what they want. It's completely out of my control.

"Everybody knows that Diego is in trouble for quite a long time.

"Everything is in their hands. I can do nothing."

Mourinho is prepared to risk Costa missing next Tuesday's clash at Sporting Lisbon.

"If he doesn't play against Sporting, he doesn't play," Mourinho added.

"The game is tomorrow. It's not Tuesday. Tuesday is another game, another story. I don't think about the Sporting game.

"I play tomorrow with the team I think is the best team to play and try to win against Aston Villa.

"The consequences after that I have to face and I have to organise a team to play against Sporting."

Ramires remains out with his abductor groin injury and Mourinho hopes the Brazil midfielder can have an extended rest to recover.

"It's a muscular injury. It's not to play Tuesday or even to play against Arsenal (on October 5).

"He needs the international two weeks break. He needs that time. Maybe he can be back after that."

It was Ramires' foul and dismissal which resulted in an ugly conclusion to March's clash at Villa Park.

Mourinho refused to reflect on that night when Chelsea's title challenge began unravelling with a 1-0 defeat.

He said: "Last season is last season. This season is this season.

"It's a game between the leader and the second position - same points as Southampton - and that's the important thing."

Press Association

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