Diego Costa says he did not throw his bib at Jose Mourinho against Tottenham last month – and accepts the Chelsea boss was right to drop him.
Costa returned to the starting line-up, after a two-game absence, as Chelsea beat Porto 2-0 to advance to the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday night as Group G winners.
The Blues want to translate the vastly-improved showing into the Premier League and Costa is keen to play his part after being dropped by Mourinho, with Eden Hazard deployed as a ‘false nine’ against Tottenham and Bournemouth.
When it became apparent Costa would not be used in the goalless draw at White Hart Lane he appeared to fling his pink substitutes’ bib in the direction of Mourinho, narrowly missing.
“People have made a party about this,” Costa told IBTimes UK.
“If I want to throw the bib at him it would have been impossible to fail because I was very close. But anyway the attitude was not good. It was disrespectful not only to him but to my team-mates.
“But as the dressing room loves me nothing happens.”
Mourinho didn’t need to explain dropping me – Costa
Costa has scored just four times for Chelsea this season and only seven since January. He has one Champions League goal for the Blues since joining from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2014.
Mourinho said the Brazil-born Spain striker’s lack of confidence was clear against Porto, where Costa forced a lucky break in an opening goal after which the visitors could not respond.
And Costa says he accepted being dropped against Tottenham without explanation.
“I don’t need someone to tell me that I’m not having a great season,” said Costa, whose most recent goal was on November 21 in the win over Norwich.
“He spoke with me, but he doesn’t need to explain anything. I know it and it is normal that the manager tries to find different alternatives to win games.
“We have a very good relationship and everything has gone well.”
Costa was prolific in his first months at Chelsea following his £32million move from Atletico Madrid.
But his form has led to suggestions Chelsea are in the market for a new striker, while he has often been linked with a return to Spain.
“It seems the English media want me to leave England as soon as possible. Because it’s not normal what they say,” Costa added.
“The truth is that I’m happy here. The only thing which I’m not happy about is the situation of the team.
“But if I were happy with that it would be very ungrateful. I have to improve and the team has to improve.”
Mourinho not to blame, says Costa
Mourinho was subject of the first managerial vote of confidence in Roman Abramovich’s 12-year ownership on October 5, but fortunes have barely improved since.
Chelsea could be in the Premier League’s relegation zone by the time of their next game with Leicester on Monday, but Costa insists Mourinho is not at fault for their miserable season so far.
“Despite things not going well he is not to blame,” Costa added.
“One thing is when one thing doesn’t work, but when four or five players are not playing (well) it is more difficult. The manager has been fighting and encouraging us to turn this around.
“We know that the manager is going to stay here until end of season. Fans like him so much, the board respect him and the players know that he is very important for us.”