Jose Mourinho was reluctant to criticise Chelsea despite a “ridiculous” error in a 2-1 Champions League loss at his former club Porto.
Mourinho was scathing in his criticism of his players following last Saturday’s 2-2 Premier League draw at Newcastle and questioned their attitude ahead of the Estadio do Dragao clash.
Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic joined captain John Terry on the substitutes’ bench, while Loic Remy, Radamel Falcao and Oscar did not even travel to Portugal.
It did not have the desired effect as Chelsea lost 2-1 to slip to third in Champions League Group G as Andre Andre and Maicon scored either side of Willian’s free-kick.
“I don’t think my players deserve me to be critical of them, apart from the two mistakes that are difficult to accept,” Mourinho said.
“I’m not going to point the finger to one or to another. Good feelings, happiness, self-esteem – players need that to play.
“When everything goes against, it’s difficult to have that feeling. So let’s try. Let’s try next Saturday (at home against Southampton).”
Maicon’s goal came from a corner, despite Chelsea being well prepared for such a circumstance.
Mourinho added: “Sometimes you make that kind of mistake and you are not punished. We were punished.
“The second goal for us is a ridiculous mistake. We watch dozens of repetitions of Porto taking corners.
“We were completely ready for that and in a moment where the game is completely under control and we were preparing a change, to concede that goal is ridiculous.”
The second mistake was from another set-piece, when a Danilo header hit the post, granting Chelsea a reprieve.
Chelsea were easily exposed for Andre’s opener as Yacine Brahimi waltzed inside Branislav Ivanovic and behind Pedro, then fired in a shot which Asmir Begovic punched only as far as Andre, who hooked the ball in.
Mourinho praised his players’ reaction, with Ivanovic going close and Diego Costa hitting the bar and also appealing for a penalty for handball against Ivan Marcano.
“The basic thing in football to work is a defensive set play,” Mourinho added.
“To concede the second goal was like (there was) ice in the players, but they react and they react in a positive way.
“Diego hit the post, Ivanovic had a chance with an open goal, one metre from the goal, the last minute situation, a clear penalty.
“The two mistakes that cost us the game, a game that was fantastic.”
Mourinho insisted it was purely a selection decision not to bring Remy and Falcao to Portugal – and one he did not regret with hindsight.
But he does not know his best starting XI at present and is no closer to finding the answers to Chelsea’s poor form.
“When the team is not playing and winning matches on a regular basis, it’s normal that you have to make changes,” Mourinho added.
“When you play a disaster it’s easier to make drastic decisions. When you play like (at Porto) and you don’t get a result, it’s more difficult.
“The result doesn’t mean that you played bad. The big mistakes we made twice doesn’t mean that the team defended badly.”