Jose Mourinho has taken a swipe at Steven Gerrard as the Chelsea manager slammed claims of a rift with his axed captain John Terry.
Mourinho left Terry on the bench for Chelsea’s 4-0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in their Champions League opener at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
His decision to drop Terry came just weeks after he hauled off the veteran defender at half-time when Chelsea were beaten at Manchester City.
LA Galaxy midfielder Gerrard, working as a television pundit for the Chelsea match, claimed Mourinho’s treatment of Terry must be due to a fracturing of their relationship.
“There’s certainly a bit of friction behind the scenes because for me, you play John Terry week in, week out, he’s your captain,” Gerrard told BT Sport.
But Mourinho was quick to rubbish that suggestion when quizzed about the former Liverpool star’s comments.
“Steven is wrong,” Mourinho said. “I like him very much and respect him. I think he feels the same way but he is wrong because we have no problems.”
While Mourinho was determined to stamp out talk of a Terry row, he stopped short of guaranteeing the centre-back, and the five other players dropped by the Chelsea manager, would return to the team for Arsenal’s visit on Saturday.
“I don’t know. Tomorrow I will start thinking about it. Everything was focused on this game. Tomorrow I will watch Arsenal,” he said.
“I prefer to have problems because players have good performances.”
– feisty form –
Mourinho was in feisty form following Chelsea’s much-needed first home win of the season as he slammed his critics in the media for a short-sighted view of the team’s recent problems.
After winning the Premier League and League Cup last season, the Blues had made their worst start to a season since 1988 with one win from their first five Premier League matches.
But Mourinho said the questioning of his reign was ridiculous.
“It is human nature. You like people up and you like people down. (Wayne) Rooney was a disaster and then he broke the record and suddenly he is the greatest player in the history of English football,” Mourinho said.
“You think in a different way. It is a different industry and it is an era when the pundits get big money to have their opinions.
“I’m a fantastic manager when I win matches and a fantastic manager when I lose matches.
“I’m not there waiting for my name to be sung by the fans. But I prefer it to them singing ‘Mourinho out’. It shows they don’t have short memories and they don’t read the papers.
“It shows they know this club won four Premier Leagues; three with me and one with my team (after Mourinho left). So let’s support this guy and we have a chance to win a fifth.”
Despite Mourinho’s typically confrontational stance, there was also a hint of relief that Chelsea had steadied the ship.
“When everything goes against you recently, and after five minutes of a game you have to win you miss a penalty, it is a great test of the character, so it was good that we showed we could cope. I’m happy with the performance,” Mourinho said.
“I know what you are thinking. We didn’t beat Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, but we beat a team that deserved to be here.
“I can imagine after a defeat how difficult it would be for everyone, especially two days before a game against Arsenal. It is very important.”
Meanwhile, Tel Aviv manager Slavisa Jokanovic admitted his players had been overwhelmed by their first appearance in the Champions League group stages for 11 years.
“It is a new competition for us. In the first game we played away against one of the biggest teams in the world. They dominated us and deserved to win the game,” Jokanovic said.
“We were too impressed with everything around us. We have to learn from this game.” – Agence France-Presse