Mourinho’s 'praise' for referees diverts attention away from Chelsea defeat
Reuters in London
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho turned up the irony level when he "congratulated" referee Mike Dean and the official’s boss Mike Riley after a contentious penalty for Sunderland put a huge dent in the London club’s Premier League title hopes on Saturday.
Mourinho refused to answer questions after his long unbeaten home league run was ended in a shock 2-1 defeat to bottom side Sunderland at Stamford Bridge, with the Chelsea boss choosing instead to make four points in his post-match news conference.
Defeat for Chelsea leaves them stuck on 75 points from 35 matches and means the chances of the title returning to west London for the first time since 2010 appear to be dwindling.
Leaders Liverpool can extend their lead at the top to five points with a win over Norwich City on Sunday.
“I’m so sorry about it, but in quick four points I can say everything I want to say,” Mourinho, who lost for the first time in 78 home league matches, said.
“The first point is to congratulate my players they did everything they could, they fought, they played from the first to the last second.
“I think they deserve that, sometimes we praise the players when we win. I think it is fair to praise my players after a defeat.
“Secondly, congratulations to Sunderland. It doesn’t matter how or why, or in which way they won, but they won. They won the three points and three fantastic points for them.
“Third point, I want to congratulate [referee] Mike Dean. I think his performance was unbelievable and I think when referees have an unbelievable performance I think it is fair that managers credit them.
“He came here with one objective, the objective of a fantastic performance and he did that.
“Fourth, I think it is fair to congratulate [referees’ chief] Mike Riley because he is the referees’ boss and what they are doing all season is fantastic.
“Especially in the last couple of months. Especially in matches involving teams that are in the title race. It is absolutely fantastic.”
Chelsea were undone with eight minutes remaining when Sunderland stole the lead from the penalty spot.
Chelsea fullback Cesar Azpilicueta slid in to tackle substitute Jozy Altidore in the box, with the Sunderland player hitting the deck after appearing to tread on the defender’s trailing leg.
Former Chelsea striker Fabio Borini, on-loan from the London club’s title rivals Liverpool, coolly slotted the ball down the middle of the goal, past stand-in keeper Mark Schwarzer.
Chelsea had begun well with Samuel Eto’o putting them in front on 12 minutes when he slammed in Willian’s corner.
Sunderland, however, were gifted an equaliser six minutes later when Schwarzer, starting in place of the unwell Petr Cech, spilled Marcos Alonso’s long-distance strike and Connor Wickham was on hand to turn the ball home.
It was the striker’s third goal in two games after he scored twice in their 2-2 draw against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Victory for Sunderland was not enough to lift them off the foot of the table, but they now have 29 points from 34 matches and trail 17th-placed Norwich City by three points with four games remaining.