Sunday, December 7, 2014 8:21 am
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho insisted his side were still the team to beat despite the Premier League leaders seeing their unbeaten start to the season ended by Newcastle United.
Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 setback against 10-man Newcastle, their first loss since April, saw Chelsea fall one game short of setting a club-record mark of 24 matches without defeat.
More damagingly, it allowed defending champions Manchester City to close to within three points of Mourinho’s side by winning 1-0 at home to Everton.
But the Chelsea manager said he was relaxed after Papiss Cisse’s brace condemned his team to a third consecutive defeat on Tyneside.
“We were unlucky and Newcastle had the luck, but I have no complaints towards my players and how they went about the game,” said Mourinho, whose side hit back through Didier Drogba.
“It’s one defeat, but it’s the kind of defeat which I can accept a little more, because I have no problem with the way my players played.
“We were unlucky, that’s all. The best team lost. The team that tried to win lost. That’s football. It’s a lucky day for them, and an unlucky one for us, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
“We conceded goals the only time they crossed the halfway line. I don’t criticise their approach. You need luck to play that way and win, but they had and I have no problems with that.”
– ‘North-east hero’ –
Mourinho was unhappy with what he saw as Newcastle’s time-wasting tactics, even accusing their ball boys of being part of a strategy to run down the clock during the six minutes of added time.
“We wanted to play more football, but it wasn’t possible due to a few things happening that I thought didn’t belong to top-level football now,” he said.
“The ball comes, then the ball goes and the ball boys run away. The ball disappears, then when the replacement ball comes, the first one comes back as well.
“There should have been more stoppage time, but it’s hard for the referee to keep track of.”
Victory for Newcastle, who were reduced to 10 men late on after a second yellow card for defender Steven Taylor, was the perfect way for manager Alan Pardew to celebrate his impending fourth anniversary at the club.