Sunday 19 November 2017

Mourinho lashes out at referees' chief Riley in bitter Baggies fallout

Gerry Cox and John Percy

Jose Mourinho has delivered a withering attack on referees' chief Mike Riley and West Bromwich Albion following the tunnel bust-up at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago.

Mourinho revealed his frustration that details of the row, in which the Chelsea manager called Albion defender Jonas Olsson a "Mickey Mouse player," were allegedly leaked after the stormy 2-2 draw.

Mourinho also criticised Riley, the head of the refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, for calling West Brom head coach Steve Clarke this week to apologise personally for the controversial injury-time penalty awarded by Andre Marriner.

Mourinho's remarks have angered his former assistant Clarke, who last night accused him of using the comments as a smokescreen to cover Chelsea's patchy start to the season.

The club have failed to reproduce the flying start they enjoyed to Mourinho's first spell with them nine years ago, when they went top of the table in autumn and stayed there all season.

West Brom were seconds away from condemning Mourinho to his first ever home defeat in the Premier League.

Yet the Portuguese(below) was in typically combative mood yesterday and insisted that managers were likely to get an apology only if the referee had appeared to give a decision that was in Chelsea's favour.

"I'm curious to know if Steve Bruce got a phone call, or Chris Hughton, or (Michael) Laudrup," he said. "Nobody called me to apologise about the fact that it was not a free-kick against West Bromwich ahead of their second goal, or the penalty at Everton that would have been 1-1 for us.

"I'm very curious to know if it was just an isolated phone call. I'm interested to know if that was the start and, from now on, it'll be the same for everybody.

"At least the referees now know one thing: if it's a controversial decision – I'm not saying a mistake – that hypothetically favours Chelsea, they know they will be publicly exposed by their boss.

"They can make hypothetical mistakes favouring other teams and nothing happens."

But Clarke, who helped Mourinho to win two league titles, an FA Cup and two league cups at Chelsea, hit back: "Maybe he's trying to deflect away from the fact that his team – against a small club – in the last game weren't as good as they should've been.

"Maybe he's trying to deflect away from the fact that his team hasn't been as good in recent weeks as they should be for the amount of players and talent they have at the club. Nobody's really spoken about how poorly Chelsea played. Maybe that's the smokescreen."

Mourinho also belittled West Brom for supposedly briefing details of the huge confrontation in the tunnel.

"Giant players, giant coaches and giant clubs don't speak about what happens in the tunnel. The game is the game," he said.

"In the tunnel, sometimes, a couple of things happen. A couple of words, not aggression. But giant clubs, giant players and giant managers close their mouth.

"I even think every tunnel should have a CCTV camera to record everything that happens there. But, when the biggest insult in the tunnel is 'Mickey Mouse,' imagine if you were to say 'Goofy'."

STUTTERING

Chelsea's stuttering start has included poor away form, with only one league victory, two draws and two defeats.

Today they travel to West Ham, where they lost 3-1 almost a year ago, and Mourinho has not had much time during the international break to work on improving on his team's away form.

"I don't like this period," he said. "I spent 11 days with only four players: (Cesar) Azpilicueta, (Ryan) Bertrand, John (Terry) and Demba (Ba). As for the rest, on international duty, the only thing I know is from what I saw in their matches on television, zapping between channels.

"This is an important period, November and December, with consecutive league matches and we need points."

Ashley Cole will not start, despite playing for England against Germany. The left-back is still out of sorts after a broken rib so Azpilicueta will retain his place. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

* Tony Pulis has agreed to take charge of Crystal Palace after lengthy negotiations.

Pulis, the former Stoke City manager, is to succeed Ian Holloway at Selhurst Park and end the Premier League bottom club's four-week search for a new head coach ahead of today's clash against Hull City.

Irish Independent

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