ESPN FC: Chelsea's loss?
Jose Mourinho was back in assertive mood after a surly two weeks as he denied walking out on the media, renewed his criticism of Jan Vertonghen and insisted he had no regrets over loaning out Romelu Lukaku.
After initially returning to proclaim himself the "Happy One" and beginning the season in contented demeanour, the Chelsea appeared especially irritated by successive defeats to Everton and Basel as well as persistent questions about players such as Juan Mata.
The situation seemingly came to a head when he walked out of Tuesday’s news conference ahead of the Champions League fixture against Steaua Bucharest immediately after criticising the press for only asking about players who were left out -- in this case Kevin De Bruyne.
However, Mourinho insisted that was not the case and that he is still the ‘happy one’.
"I'm enjoying it," he told his news conference ahead of Sunday's trip to Norwich. "What people wrote was not true. I had to go to the training session. The press conference was supposed to be together with Frank Lampard but he was with the medical department so became separate. I had my press conference, I didn't want to wait for translation and stood up and said goodbye. Maybe people took it wrong way because of what I said. It wasn't what people said. But that's fine. It sells."
Mourinho also continued to blame Jan Vertonghen for Fernando Torres’ red card in the 1-1 draw against Tottenham last Saturday, and said that the Spanish striker’s one-game suspension was "fair" despite being filmed scratching the Belgian defender's face and Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas calling the decision "a disgrace".
When the latter's remarks were put to Mourinho, he said he doesn’t "comment on opinions", pointing to the perceived physical nature of the English league.
"I have my own opinions and don't comment on other people. My opinion is simple. English football is English football. The Premier League is the most important championship and loved worldwide. One of the reasons is because people enjoy aggression, emotion, players losing a bit of control. They don't enjoy simulation. I think the game for Fernando was more than enough because the second yellow card came from simulation. Think the FA defended the principles and values of English football."
Torres is also out for 15 days with an injury to his medial collateral knee ligament but Mourinho does not feel it either presents a problem or provides grounds to lament Romelu Lukaku’s loan to Everton.
When asked whether the forward’s performance in the Merseyside team’s 3-2 win over Newcastle made him regret the loan, Mourinho was unequivocal.
"No," he said. "One thing to play for Everton, another for Chelsea.
"It's a pity for [Torres] and a pity for us. We have two strikers left, one to play, one on the bench. We have to play."
Mourinho again expressed full confidence in Samuel Eto’o returning to his best form, even if his age means it is not quite in the same position or role as in his prime.
"I was saying at the beginning that the player I know, the professional I know, what happened in Russia in last two-and-a-half years I didn't know," he said. "Normally when top player goes to Anzhi the pressure goes down, the motivation goes down, and physical condition and sharpness goes down. Now he's back in top European football and needs a bit of time to find that sharpness. He's playing a lot, he played 80 minutes this week, he is getting his form and understanding of where he is. The Premier League is a different picture. So give him a little bit of time.
"Players transform themselves with the years. They become stronger in some aspects, lose some qualities in others. For example, with me in Inter he was playing wide and came inside, very fast. I don't think can play the same way. He must be more static player, a pure No. 9. Players must adapt to their age, potential and condition."