José Mourinho pleased with ballsy Chelsea
Manager says his team would be named Champions elect in any other league
Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock (left) and Chelsea manager José Mourinho before the Barclays Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Chelsea lacked “balls” in last season’s defeat at Crystal Palace which saw Mourinho concede the title, but on their return to Selhurst Park the Blues secured a seventh win from eight matches this term courtesy of sublime Oscar and Cesc Fabregas goals in a 2-1 win.
“To win the title — long way to go,” Mourinho said. “If we were in another league, another profile of league, I would say immediately ‘yes we will do it’.
“In the Premier League the only thing I can say is that we can do it, but in the Premier League it’s difficult to say we are going to do it.
“So many good teams, so many difficulties, long way to go, very difficult runs in front of us. I don’t want to say that (we will win). We are a better team than last season, there was a clear evolution in our team.
“The evolution is not just based on the fact that we bought two fantastic players (Fabregas and Diego Costa), because today one of them (Costa) was not playing and the team was fantastic the same way.
“Our evolution was a team evolution and I’m really pleased with that.”
Mourinho declined to give a prognosis on Costa, who has scored nine times in seven Premier League appearances this season. The €40 million summer signing from Atletico Madrid has been hampered with troublesome hamstring injuries yet played almost every minute for Spain during the international break.
Mourinho said: “After Arsenal he went to national team, he played two big matches against Slovakia and Luxembourg, and he come in conditions where he’s not available to play for his club.”
Mourinho said he had “no idea” when Costa would next be available, but ruled him out of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Maribor and would not comment on the prospect of a return at Manchester United next Sunday.
Mourinho added: “I think he will be in great condition in mid-November to be back for the national team. That’s for sure. Our medical department will take great care of him and mid-November he will be in perfect conditions.
“He will play for me when he has free time from national team.”
Mourinho said Chelsea showed “big balls” - like in March, writing on a reporter’s notepad of his side’s enhanced character - after dominating the fiery derby contest.
The second half took place with 10 men aside and Chelsea were made to sweat in the conclusion as Fraizer Campbell scored what proved to be only a consolation.
“What pleased me the most? The way we imposed our game,” Mourinho added. “In their game they are better than us, the way they play, they are better than us. If we come here and we don’t impose our game, we have no chance.
“From minute one to minute 94 we imposed our game. We had the ball, we were always in control. The only thing we didn’t do well was not to score the third goal to kill the game and to give Palace always the chance to be in the game.”
Didier Drogba’s introduction after Palace’s reply, despite training alone due to an ankle problem, was then key.
Mourinho added: “I needed him (to keep possession). Didier for me was the best player in the last four minutes.”
Mourinho lauded the collective will of his side. He added: “This is what pleases me, the quality of our game but also the spirit of the group. We have a very good group of guys.”
Palace boss Neil Warnock rued Delaney’s dismissal and referee Craig Pawson’s performance.
“Silly thing to do, to give the referee a decision like that,” Warnock said. “Half the (Chelsea) team surrounded the ref. I thought they influenced him at times today, but he’s only young isn’t he? It’s experience, I suppose.”
Warnock felt Terry would have been booked for a foul on Campbell had he been a Palace player.
“It set a precedent for me,” Warnock added. “I thought he left a lot to be desired today. He’s had better days. I don’t think that should take away from our lot. We played really well.
“On another day I think we’d have got a result, if things had gone our way.”