Jose Mourinho the Manchester United boss and ex-Chelsea manager did well to hold his breath when asked about the sending off of Andres Herrera as the Reds were dumped out of the FA Cup by Chelsea 1-0 on Monday night at Stamford Bridge
N’Golo Kante’s second half strike was enough to win the tie and Chelsea will face Spurs in the semi-final at Wembley at the end of April.
But it was the sending off of Spain midfielder Herrera that changed the game in Chelsea’s favour.
Mourinho said: “I don’t speak about it (the sending off). I just want to say I’m really proud of my players and Manchester United’s fans, and we have a really important fixture on Thursday. Now we have to try and prepare the team for that game. We can analyse in different perspectives. Everyone can do it in a different way. But we all watched the match until the red card, and after the red card… then you can compare the decisions of these two yellow cards, in this case the second yellow, with others that weren’t given. But I don’t want to go in that direction. This season, Mr Michael Oliver, a referee of fantastic potential, we were a bit unlucky as Manchester United. In four matches, we might have had three penalties and we had one red card. I can’t change that, but I can try and interfere with the match on Thursday which is coming. I shook the referee’s hand and said ‘Many congratulations’, and there’s nothing more to say.”
Mourinho is know for his volitile nature and was happy with his own performance in the dugout.
He said: “I managed to control (my emotions). I managed to control them. I managed to control my reactions, and that’s good. That’s good, because this way I can be on the bench in the next match. My players need me. I need to be close to them. I think it was good for me to control those emotions.”
There was an incident when Chelsea head coach and Mourinho moved towards each other -thankfully the fourt official was in-between the pair.
“I’m in the game,” he said. ” And I communicate with my players and the fourth official if I have the feeling I can communicate sometimes I have the feeling you can’t do it. I think we all saw the game and can have different opinions and perspectives. But we have to agree there was a match until the moment Herrera saw the red card, and then there was another natch after that. Before that, I saw a game with the feeling I was going to win. Everything was under control and their frustration was evident because they couldn’t play the way they always play. Then, with 10 men, it was very difficult for us. Our strategy was to play with two up front. When we had two up front, the three central defenders couldn’t come with the ball. They were giving bad long balls, outside the pitch. Then when we had one player less, they had three against one and could bring the ball and be more dominant. In spite of that, we defended really well. In spite of that, we had the biggest chance of the game when Rashford faces the Chelsea goalkeeper. So I’m really proud of my players, after Thursday in Rostov and with them again on Thursday… I’m really proud of the guys. Mr Oliver… goes home and can do his own analysis because I don’t want to analyse his work.”
But Mourinho can’t let go with the sending off.
He said: “Compare Herrera’s second yellow card with that of a couple of minutes later when Rashford goes to attack the space and the Chelsea captain grabs him, stops him in a counter-attack. Mr Oliver does not give a card, not even a yellow. But I’m not talking about that. I have a big match on Thursday. Rostov played yesterday, and we’re playing 7.45pm on a Monday. Great protection for an English club playing in the Europa League. So we have to rest until Thursday in front of our amazing supporters. I’m very proud of my players and my supporters.”
Some Chelsea fans’ hurled needless abuse at Mourinho, but the Special One was quick to reply, putting up three fingers to show how he won there league titles for them and they should show more respect.
“They can call me what they want,” he said. “I am a professional. I defend my club. Until the moment they have a manager that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’m the No1. When they have somebody who wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’ll be No2. For this moment, I’m Judas is No1.”
Mourinho failed to shake Conte’s hand after the game, He was keen not to suggest there was a snub. “I will shake his hand here (if I see him),” he said. “I didn’t because my players deserved my action immediately, and our supporters deserved our thanks. I can promise you that if I see him now, I’ll shake his hand. I have nothing to say to him at all, but I will shake his hand.”
Mourinho then did what he likes doing most having a slight dig at his former club. “We don’t cry,” he said.
“Nobody saw us crying this week because we don’t have Zlatan, this or that. Nobody had one single word from us crying about it. The only thing we spoke about is the fact we are playing in Europe and our opponents aren’t. You know… our opponents could. I left the club last season in the Champions League, winning the Champions League group, in the knockout phase playing the second leg at home. If they won the Champions League last year, they’d be playing in Europe this season. It’s not my fault. It’s the ones that stayed here and didn’t win the Champions League. What I share with them is that we didn’t have a good Premier League, and I share responsibility with that.”