On a night when Leicester regained top spot courtesy of goals from Jamie Vardy and the outstanding Riyad Mahrez in a thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory over the champions, Mourinho also rounded on the ballboys, whom he accused of being a “disgrace to the Premier League” for alleged time-wasting.
The Chelsea manager was most upset, however, with his players. He said that their pride and self-esteem should be damaged because of their poor performances. With Sunderland to come at Stamford Bridge on Saturday followed by another home game against Watford, Mourinho claimed that his squad had to accept they belonged at the same level as their next two opponents.
Asked whether he was 100% convinced that he would still be in charge for the Sunderland game, Mourinho replied: “The only thing I can say is that I want to be. I have no doubts and I think you know me well enough, three years this time, plus three years another time, that I am not afraid of a big challenge, and in this moment this is a real big challenge. I want to stay, I hope Mr Abramovich and the board want me to stay.”
Mourinho is clearly exasperated with the way everything has unravelled so spectacularly this season but he said that the same players would have to dig themselves out of the hole. “My board, my club I don’t think it’s right that I go to them and say these players are not good, we need to spend £50m or £100m or whatever, I don’t think it’s fair,” he said. “We have these players and it’s with these players we have to go. The players that are not performing well, they must feel attacked in their pride and their self-esteem and they have to do everything to get results in a humble way.
“I don’t think in this moment they can feel they are top players or they can feel they are superstars. They have to look at the Leicester boys and to feel these are the stars, these are the top players. They have to look to Sunderland and Watford and say: ‘We are at the same level. I am not the superstar, I am not the player of the season, I am not the world champion, I am not the Premier League champion. At this moment, I am at your level.’”
Although Mourinho made it clear that Leicester deserved to win, he was furious that the ball took so long to be returned when it went out of play in the closing stages as Chelsea pushed for an equaliser after Loïc Rémy had pulled a goal back. “The ballboys were amazing,” Mourinho said sarcastically. “But the ballboys point I just say because I feel it is a disgrace for the Premier League, but please make it very clear that I don’t want the ballboys story to be in front of a result that Leicester deserve.”
Mourinho was also bitterly upset that his players failed to heed his warnings about the attacking threat Leicester posed. “I feel my work is betrayed,” he said. “I worked four days in training for this match. I identified four movements where Leicester score a lot of their goals and in two of the four situations I identified they scored their goals. I went through it all with the players, you can ask them.”
To cap a miserable night, the Chelsea manager also saw Eden Hazard limp off injured in the first half after a challenge from Vardy. Hazard gestured dismissively at Mourinho as he walked off the pitch after initially trying to continue.
“I don’t know what is wrong,” Mourinho said. “The only thing I know is that within 10 seconds he made the decision himself. He came off and said straight away he couldn’t do it. Then he tried and immediately he came back off. He made the decision to come off. So it must be a serious injury.
“His first reaction was ‘I can’t continue’, his second reaction was ‘I want to try’, but after his first step back on the pitch he said he couldn’t. He’s injured clearly.”