SOUTHAMPTON, December 29 – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho claimed that there is a “campaign” to get his players wrongly punished for diving following his side’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Southampton.
After Eden Hazard had cancelled out Sadio Mane’s opener for Southampton on Sunday, referee Anthony Taylor booked Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas after he went down under a challenge by Matthew Targett in the second half.
Television replays indicated that the official may have made a mistake, as Targett appeared to make contact with Fabregas after slipping, but Mourinho suggested that there was more to it than that.
He listed previous incidents when Chelsea players had been booked for perceived dives, including one involving Diego Costa against Burnley on the opening weekend of the season.
Diving had also been the topic of post-match conversation after a 2-0 home win against Hull City earlier this month, which saw England defender Gary Cahill topple to the turf in an eye-catching manner.
“Why was it not a penalty? Because the referee made a mistake,” Mourinho said. “People make mistakes — he made a mistake. A big mistake, but a mistake.
“I think it is the result of something that looks like a campaign. In the first match, Diego got a yellow card when it should have been a red card (for the defender) and a penalty at Burnley.
“A few months later, Fabregas gets a yellow card. The double punishment is unbelievable. You have a penalty and probably you win the game. You don’t get the penalty and you get a yellow card.
“We have had bad yellow cards for simulation. I am not saying all, but we are speaking about crucial decisions. For example, the game against Hull City — do you think the most important thing was Cahill or Filipe Luis almost with a broken leg?”
Chelsea’s Boxing day fixture had also featured a simulation controversy, with West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce having accused Branislav Ivanovic of going down too easily during his side’s 2-0 defeat.
On that occasion the officials punished neither side.
– ‘Stupid mistakes’ –
Asked who he thought was behind the “campaign”, Mourinho replied: “I don’t know, but after the game against West Ham — a good game, a normal game — (Enner) Valencia made a very bad dive and at the end of the game, Sam is speaking about Ivanovic. What is this? Why?
“It is not against me because I am not on the pitch, but against Chelsea, yes. Do you want me to tell you the two most important things that happened in my matches, in my opinion? Filipe Luis and Eden Hazard could be in hospital now with broken legs.”
The point kept Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table, three points ahead of Manchester City, who surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Burnley.
“Chelsea have been playing very well since the beginning of the season. We are top of the league because we deserve to be,” added Mourinho defiantly. “I am so happy with my players.”
Ronald Koeman, the Southampton manager, was also delighted, having seen his players defend for most of a second half that saw home midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin sent off late on for two bookable offences.
Southampton, who are in fourth place, had previously lost home fixtures against City and Manchester United, and the Dutchman was satisfied that his players had applied the lessons learnt the hard way from those defeats.
“One point against Chelsea is maybe three points against another opponent,” Koeman said.
“The difference was we played until the last second. We didn’t make stupid mistakes like we did against United and City.”
Koeman, who was a colleague of Mourinho’s at Barcelona when Louis van Gaal was coach, admitted the Fabregas incident could well have gone against his side.
“Maybe it’s a penalty. I don’t know,” he said. “If it’s a penalty they can be disappointed about that decision, but it’s part of football.”