Mourinho puts Rooney approach on hold
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says he will not try to unsettle Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney by making a renewed bid for the striker before the teams meet on Monday.
Mourinho has already seen two bids for Rooney rejected by United and has made it apparent that the 27-year-old England forward is his top priority in the transfer window, which closes on September 2.
However, although he hinted that he has not given up in his pursuit of Rooney, he said he would not seek to gain an advantage over David Moyes’ team by creating fresh headlines about the former Everton player.
“I don’t want Chelsea to do it before we go there,” Mourinho said, after his side edged Aston Villa 2-1 in a keenly contested match on Wednesday.
“Everybody in the club, in the board, they agree with me. They share that opinion. There is time to do things we did before, we will do later.
“But I think this period, by the ethical point of view, is a period where we’re going to be quiet.”
Chelsea secured victory over Villa thanks to a 73rd-minute header from Branislav Ivanovic, after Antonio Luna’s early own goal was cancelled out by Villa striker Christian Benteke moments before half-time.
The game had been brought forward due to Chelsea’s involvement in the Uefa Super Cup and victory handed Mourinho’s side an early three-point lead in the Premier League, but the encounter was marked by controversy.
Villa manager Paul Lambert was incensed that Ivanovic was only booked for catching Benteke with his elbow and that John Terry escaped after the ball struck his outstretched arm in the Chelsea area in stoppage time.
Mourinho, though, felt Villa’s robust approach to the match at Stamford Bridge meant they had little cause for complaint.
“They fought a lot to get a result,” he said during his post-game press conference.
“I don’t think they play a lot, because they don’t play a lot. Every ball the goalkeeper has, the goalkeeper kicks.”
Mourinho insisted that the second-half tussle between Ivanovic and Benteke, which happened yards in front of the two dug-outs and sparked angry scenes on the touchline, was nothing more than a “football fight”.
He also claimed, with a trademark hint of provocation, that Lambert’s angry touchline antics reminded him of himself in his younger days, before he had mellowed with experience.
“He reminds me of myself 10 years ago, where I was complaining [about] every decision, where I want to coach my team and at the same time I want to have a whistle in my lips,” Mourinho said.
“He’s the same. With time he will learn, because he complains with every, every, every decision. But he’s a young manager, very intelligent.”
Lambert refused to take the bait, describing Mourinho’s comments - which were related to him by journalists -- as “a nice compliment”, but he rejected the accusation that his side play unsophisticated football.
“We’re not a long-ball team, we’re a football team,” he said.
“Everyone’s got an opinion on the game. I’m not getting caught up in that. I’m proud of the team.”
The Scot would not reveal what he said to referee Kevin Friend after the game, but he was unyielding in his belief that the official had made two decisive blunders.
“I think we’ve been done by two big decisions that were wrong,” said Lambert, whose side hosts Liverpool on Saturday.
“I don’t know how you can miss those ones, not big decisions like that. They’re big game-changers. My team never deserved that.”
Villa lost centre-back Ciaran Clark in the first half after the Irishman was caught in the face by Demba Ba, but Lambert played down the gravity of the injury.
“He got a nasty gash on his forehead, but hopefully he’s OK,” he said.