After a day of cryptic language and runed expressions, specifically crafted to make a point but avoid punishment, he couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Jose Mourinho requested to appear on Sky Sports’ sit-down show Goals on Sunday after Chelsea was held by Burnley in a controversial 1-1 finish on Saturday. The result was an eye-popping, sometimes cringe-worthy 20 minutes where the Blues manager picked apart the refereeing decisions across the season that have pegged back the league leaders from maintaining their gap at the top of the table.
Over the course of the interview, Mourinho covered many subjects, but the most significant involved the challenge by Burnely defender Ashley Barnes on Nemanja Matic that resulted in Matic’s sending off this weekend. The tackle was a disgustingly dangerous crunch on Matic’s lower leg that left the Serbian lucky to come away unscathed. He didn’t react kindly, and his shove of Barnes resulted in a straight red card and a three-match ban. Mourinho was furious, not only at the challenge but also at the lack of press coverage focused on Barnes’ admittedly ugly play.
Referring back to when the media was harsh on Diego Costa for a stamp of Liverpool’s Emre Can, he said to the Sky presenters, “The consequence for Matic could be end of career,” the 52-year-old said. “I can’t find another adjective stronger. Matic is a lucky guy.”
“When you describe Diego Costa as ‘criminal’, my English is not good enough, I do not have an adjective to describe that player [Barnes].”
He then hit out at the referees directly. “You want consistency in the right way,” Mourinho said. “not in the wrong way. If you have a lawyer who is consistent, but he has lost 15 out of 15 cases, you do not want that lawyer. That is not good consistency.”
“I know it is difficult to referee, I referee the matches in the training sometimes. I tell the assistants to make as many calls as possible because I know it is hard. My players are not getting the respect they deserve because this is too much. Too much.”
He went all the way back to the first day of this season when he feels the poor decisions started. “Burnley Chelsea, which was Day 1 in the Premier League, it [should be] a penalty and a red card for the goalkeeper. And Mr. [Michael] Oliver, another of the top referees in the country, and clearly one of the top referees in European football, [he gives] a yellow card to Diego Costa and free kick against Chelsea. We have this history since Day 1.”
It’s hard to see Jose escaping yet another fine for these words, and maybe more – something which he himself acknowledged may be coming. In addition, to compare refereeing training to refereeing a match is silly and ridiculous. However, the man has a point. Martin Atkinson was a disaster in Chelsea’s match, and while it’s highly unlikely Mourinho’s famous “campaign against Chelsea” is actually a thing, his suggestion that the standard of refereeing has been consistently poor this season is somewhat accurate, and it has affected the Blues on more than one occasion.
The presenters suggested that sometimes in this game questionable decisions go in your favor and sometimes they go against you. Mourinho’s response, with a wry smile, was “When? When? Try to find. I remember one all season, which was a doubtful [decision] that went in our favor. I remember one.” He would later say the moment he’s referring to is a let-off against Liverpool where, with Chelsea up 1-0 late, Liverpool should have been given a penalty for a handball on Cahill. He then went on to say that had the refereeing been better, his current five-point gap at the top of the table should be a 12-point cushion, specifically pointing out matches where decisions cost his team points.
After saying Saturday immediately following the match, “I can’t go through the incidents. I am punished when I refer to them,” the shackles were off this morning, and Mourinho let loose.