Mourinho refuses to blame players
ESPN FC: Bittersweet blues
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho tried to carry the burden for his side's surprise 1-0 Champions League defeat in Basel, after claiming his team selection was to blame for the below par performance at the St Jakob Stadium.
The 2012 European champions still plotted a route to the last 16 despite their second successive Group E defeat against Basel, yet the manner of the display in Switzerland left the Blues boss needing to be inventive as he came up with excuses for his players.
• Lythell: Chelsea grind through
Mourinho resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to his team after their encouraging performance in the 3-0 win against West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday and even though his side turned in a desperately lacklustre display, he accepted much of the blame.
"I felt the team was tired. The team today paid the price of the international [break]," Mourinho told Sky Sports, after he again left Spanish international Juan Mata on the bench despite suggesting his players were feeling fatigued.
"The match that was crucial for us against West Ham, everyone played very, very well and everyone played an intense game and we paid a price [against Basel]. They were tired, no reaction, wrong decisions, so I’m not so sad with them because I think I understand. The team was not fresh.
"Maybe I should make more changes in my team, but when you play so well and when we get such a good performance against West Ham, you have the temptation to play the same team because they played so well. We should get a better result than this, but I don't blame the players."
Mourinho is often been bullish in his post-match comments when his side suffers a shock defeat, but this was an occasion when he accepted Chelsea got what they deserved after Mohamed Salah scored a winning goal three minutes from time.
"A bad performance. A deserved defeat, but because of other results we qualify and that is the only positive thing from this night," he added. "We qualify for the last 16 and now we have to get a result at home [against Steaua Bucharest] to be first.
"Everything I didn't like from the first minute. We start with a defensive mistake immediately. The first time we were in the game, we made a mistake. The team only had a little bit of stability and a little bit of control in the second half, but it was a bad performance. I just want to rest and prepare the team for the weekend [against Southampton] now."
Goalkeeper Petr Cech made no excuses for his side's performance, insisting Chelsea failed to make the most of their chances in front of goal.
"We lacked a good start because as bad as we started that carried on for 45 minutes. The second half we improved a little," Cech told Sky Sports. "The only positive we have is that we qualified from the group.
"Sometimes 10 points isn't enough to go through. (On this occasion) we have gone through but it is the only positive because we did not play well.
"If you give your opponent in the Champions League the feeling that they can, they can -- and you see that. We could have finished the game off, but our last touch was missing -- it was not our day. We need to be better."