VIDEO: Jose Mourinho bullish, stands by decision to remove Carneiro, Fearn from bench

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LONDON — “I haven’t seen it this packed in years,” said one local journalist in the tiny press lounge at Chelsea Cobham training ground in London’s suburbs

[ MORE: Mourinho irked by Carneiro’s FB post ]

On Friday, media members flocked to see what Jose Mourinho had to say following his public criticism, then demotion, of two members of his medical staff made headlines around the world.

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The manager of the reigning Premier League champions looked as you would expect throughout: surly, unimpressed and defiant. It’s a look we’ve come to know well over the years as he sat and address the media from his perch three to four feet above the rest of the room.

Mourinho started by refusing to admit he’d done anything wrong in removing both Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn from the bench for all first-team matches, plus not letting them attend the team hotel and training sessions ahead of games for the foreseeable future. All of this comes after Carneiro and Fearn ran onto the pitch — beckoned by referee Michael Oliver to do so — late in Chelsea’s opening day game against Swansea City to treat an injured Eden Hazard.

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Already down to 10-men following Thibaut Courtois’ red card, Mourinho was incensed that his medical staff “didn’t understand the game” and momentarily left him with only eight outfield players as Swansea attacked.

Before Mourinho’s press conference began, Chelsea’s head of communications revealed that two other members of Chelsea’s medical staff will be on the bench for the clash against Manchester City on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) but that their names will not be released.

Addressing the media for the first time since widespread criticism of his decision to demote two highly respected members of his medical staff, here’s what Mourinho had to say, in just under 15 minutes, to a packed out press room.

Mourinho’s opening statement after asked if Carneiro, Fearn will be on bench and if he has any regrets:

I hope this room is full because the champions are going to play against the former champions. Because the transfer window is on fire and in the last period, because we have, hopefully, a big match on Sunday. But I knew it already, it is not a surprise. Your question is probably… most of the people here don’t even like football. They come for other reasons.

 I don’t want to run away from it. I accept the question and understand the question. First of all I want to say I have a fantastic medical department with a top leader. With more than a dozen professional between doctors and physios and masseurs and specialist of different areas. I have a good relation with them.

As they tell me all the time, they were never praised so much as there were with me in the last couple of years. Because normally managers, when things go well they keep for themselves but when they have problems with injuries and related to medical department. That is when they talk about the medical department. I

I praise them lots of times in these couple of years. They don’t forget that, I don’t forget that. As they also told me yesterday, we have disagreements during this period. We need disagreements to improve. We work together. We improve together. That’s the way we do things.

This, I want to make it very, very clear. Your question about the bench, I have to say for some people the bench is very important. For other people it is not important. For some people it is not what people think you do, it is what you do. 

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Arsenal v Chelsea – Premier League

The bench is my responsibility, yes. It is my decision, it is nobody else’s decision. Every week I face a decision about the bench. Every week with 25 players, 11 on the pitch, seven on the bench and seven of them are not even on the bench. I have to choose. I have seven assistants, only four can go on the bench. I have four kit men, only one can be on the bench. With the medical department, only two can go on the bench and we have more than a dozen. It is important to be on the bench for some, for others it is more important for their contribution. What they do.

I understand the question, I don’t want to run away from the question. John Fearn and Dr. Carneiro, they will not be on the bench but it doesn’t mean that Sunday is the rest of our season or the rest of our careers. They will not be on the bench on Sunday, that is clear, that decision is my responsibility but it doesn’t mean they will not be on the bench in the future.

 If you want to speak with me about football, I’m here. If you want to speak to me about other issues, I am not here.

On if he regretted any part of his action:

I have no problem answering. You can take your conclusion by what I said. My relation with everyone who works, the majority, is an open relation, it is a relation open to disagreements, critic. The game is a very emotional space for every one of us. If a player has a bad reaction with a colleague or a member of staff. Football is football. The match is a match. Everything in a match can be different. Especially after the meeting I had with my medical department yesterday, where I got enough feedback to understand the way we have been doing things for two years and the kind of relation we have between all of us, allows us to have this kind of relation.

On the preparation for the game vs. Man City being impacted:

If somebody thinks that a disagreement between two members of the medical staff and the manager can affect the week, it is somebody who doesn’t have a a clue about what football is and preparation for matches. It is obviously not. The season is very, very long. We are speaking about 38 matches. 38 matches is an eternity. It is a marathon that started last week and ends in a around 10 months.

I cannot say it is crucial, I cannot say it is decisive. I cannot say that it is very, very important. But, two title contenders, three points. If you can get three and your opponents zero, it is important. I’m not going to say the game isn’t important but for sure the game doesn’t decide anything for the winner or the loser.

On team news:

Oscar is a doubt, he had a little injury in training. Courtois is suspended as you know. Apart from that, all good.

On if all successful managers have to be ruthless:

I speak about myself, I don’t speak about other managers. I am far from being ruthless. Far. Far. I have a fantastic relation with almost everyone who works with me. I am open to mistakes, communication dialogue, critics. I make mistakes. And as some people in my medical staff said to me yesterday, we work together, we improve together. I am far from being ruthless.

On Chelsea fans being concerned about lack of transfer activity:

Chelsea supporters are worried about the transfer window, they must be until the moment Mr. Abramovich bought the club. Since Mr. Arbamovich bought the club, Chelsea supporters cannot speak in a negative way about the transfer market. They have to only speak in a positive way and praise the owner and praise the board. The dedication and all the owner did for the club has been absolutely amazing and is obviously a fantastic contribution to the success the team had in previous years. We managers, we won titles. Players won titles, the club won titles.

Everybody had a contribution and I think the contribution of the owner as being massive in that aspect. If in this moment we are not top of the league in relation to the spenders, it doesn’t mean people have to be worried. First of all the transfer window is not closed, it is open until the August 31. Second, you don’t always have to be ‘champion in the market.’ Third, we do things when we have to do and when we think we can do it at the right moment. For example when two years ago we didn’t buy a striker and people was a bit disappointed we didn’t buy a striker, we didn’t buy a striker because we knew the next year Diego Costa is coming and is coming for a price that is established in his contract. Sometimes you have to think more than the moment. Many, many times is the reason why we don’t discuss things publicly or explain publicly because we work inside. The owner is the owner and he will be the owner for many, many years. The board has such a close relation with the owner. The board just gave me a four-year contract. We are in great stability and we work fantastically well.

On speaking to the players about why the doctors won’t be on the bench:

No. Why? With the players? No. Because the players, the only thing they need to be worried about is to have the best people around them. In this club they are surrounded by top quality people, they trust everybody the same way. In fact the most important thing for the players is the medical care they have during the week. They have to be in condition to perform the best they can.

On speaking to Eden Hazard about the incident: 

I’m not discussing it. That’s my problem.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard price ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).

Report: Chelsea, Real $38M apart on Hazard

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How much for Hazard?

Real Madrid are willing to pay $127 million, no small fee, to bring Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but that’s well off the Blues’ evaluation according to Sky Sports.

Chelsea sees Hazard’s price as $165 million. Belgian writer Kristof Terreur told Sky that Hazard wants his future sorted by June 4.

[ MORE: Bayern wins double ]

The Blues’ superstar is entering the final year of his contract, and could begin negotiating with other clubs in January and leave on a free transfer.

Hazard turns 29 in January. He recorded 19 goals and 16 assists in 51 matches this season, his best output in a Blues uniform.

The report says Chelsea feels no pressure to sell Hazard, but it would be a surprise if it dug in its heels too deeply considering the state of the Belgian’s contract.

Even for Chelsea, letting over $100 million walk out the door is wild, and for all Hazard’s won with Chelsea there’s also been consternation under several managers and a more than occasional habit of disappointing on the table.

MLS roundup: Timbers end road trip with emphatic win in Philly

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in MLS…

[ MORE: USA topped by Ukraine in U-20 World Cup opener ]

Philadelphia Union 1-3 Portland Timbers [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Just when everyone had begun to take the Union seriously — to give them the respect befitting a first-place team — Jim Curtin’s side fell flat on its face and fell out of the Eastern Conference’s top spot. Saturday’s defeat to the suddenly streaking — and homeward bound — Timbers snapped Philadelphia’s six-game unbeaten run (four wins).

24-year-old attacker Brian Fernandez, signed as a Designated Player earlier this month, made his first MLS start and marked the occasion with two first-half goals (31st and 36th minutes). Diego Valeri added the third (87th) after Kacper Przybylko pulled the Union back to 2-1 in the 47th.

Now, with 14 points from their 12-game road trip to start the season, Portland heads home for 17 of their final 22 games to be played inside a newly renovated — and expanded — Providence Park. The gap between themselves and a Western Conference playoff place is just four points.

New England Revolution 1-1 D.C. United [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

With the Union slipping up and dropping all three points, D.C. United made the most of their opportunity to return to the top of the East on the back of Wayne Rooney‘s 90th-minute penalty kick to snatch a 1-1 draw with (what will soon be) Bruce Arena’s Revolution.

Juan Agudelo put the home side ahead with a header in the 61st minute, and the lead held firm for nearly the final half-hour. Alas, video review reviewed a handball late in the game, which presented Rooney the chance to play the part of hero. He duly obliged and hammered his spot kick past backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who replaced Matt Turner following his 56th minute red card for cleaning out Rooney.

Arena is expected to take charge of Revs training this week and make his debut as head coach next Sunday, when his new side visits… his old side, the LA Galaxy.

Colorado Rapids 3-2 Columbus Crew SC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Don’t look now, but the Rapids have won two straight games under interim head coach Conor Casey and appear set on clawing their way out of the league’s basement.

Sure, they blew a pair of leads at home, but they also hit back with another goal of their own every time Crew SC drew level, culminating in a stunning winner from Nicolas Mezquida.

The gap between Colorado and 23th place is now just three points, as expansion side FC Cincinnati come closer and closer on the horizon.

Elsewhere in MLS

Chicago Fire 1-1 New York City FC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 FC Dallas [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
FC Cincinnati 0-2 New York Red Bulls [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Minnesota United 1-0 Houston Dynamo [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders — 6 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. San Jose Earthquakes — 7:30 p.m. ET

Will winning the double be enough to keep Kovac at Bayern?

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BERLIN (AP) Niko Kovac is the first to win a domestic double in Germany as a player and coach, yet it may not be enough to keep his job as Bayern Munich coach.

[ MORE: Valencia end Barcelona’s four-year hold on Copa del Rey ]

Kovac, whose side defeated Leipzig 3-0 in the German Cup final on Saturday, a week after clinching the Bundesliga title, is yet to be given assurances in public from the club that he will remain in charge, despite bringing a successful end to what had been a testing season.

The pressure and uncertainty appeared to cast a shadow on what was Kovac’s second successive German Cup win — he was Eintracht Frankfurt coach when the side defeated Bayern in the final last year.

“Last year I was leaving the team. This year everything is a little less emotional, no tears, but still, I’m happy,” Kovac said.

“Sometimes I would really wish that things went a little differently. It’s difficult to turn the wheel back. We should all work on it, we’re all human. We should make sure that we get along with each other.”

[ U-20 WORLD CUP: Ezequiel Barco’s golazo paces Argentina to big win ]

Kovac, who won the double as a player in 2003, acknowledged the cup win on Saturday was “very important” as “it shows that we have worked well.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was again coy when pressed on the coach’s future.

“At the end of the day, we have to get titles. Of course the coach plays a central role,” Rummenigge said. “It was never an issue for us with the term that he has until 2021, that he would simply not be there anymore as coach beforehand.”