By Toby Prince
Chelsea’s nightmare start to the season continued as Southampton came from behind to record a well-deserved 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
The west Londoners took an early lead when Willian’s 30-yard curled free-kick beat Maarten Stekelenburg in the Saints’ goal.
Steven Davis smashed home a fine equaliser just before the break before the highly impressive Sadio Mane ran through after a defensive error to give Southampton a lead which their performance merited.
Graziano Pelle’s 18 minutes from time clinical finish sealed victory for Southampton, who now climb up to ninth in the table.
Chelsea’s fourth defeat of the season leaves them 16th in the table, just four points above the relegation zone and it seems a lot longer than five months since they were crowned Premier League champions.
The crisis deepens for Jose Mourinho and the mood in the dressing room cannot have been helped by the Portuguese’s decision to substitute Nemanja Matic less than half-an-hour after bringing him on.
A poor start to the campaign has become possibly the biggest crisis of Mourinho’s managerial career and just what owner Roman Abramovich thinks of the situation can only be speculated about.
Mourinho admitted that he risked the sack after the defeat claiming he is the best manager in the club’s history.
“If the club wants to sack me, they have to sack me, because I am not running away,” Mourinho told Sky Sports in an extraordinary post-match interview at Stamford Bridge.
“It is a crucial moment in the history of this club because if they sack me, they sack the best manager this club has ever had. The message is that the results are the fault of the manager.
“This is a moment for everybody to assume their responsibilities and stick together.”
Read Mourinho’s seven minutes answer to just one question by Sky Sport below
Look, I think you know me and I think I don’t run away from responsibilities. I think, first of all I want to say that because we are in such a bad moment I think you shouldn’t be afraid to be also honest because when we are in the top there is quite a big pleasure in put us down but when we are so down I think it’s time to be a little bit honest and to say clearly that referees are afraid to give decisions for Chelsea.
The result 1-1 is a huge penalty and once more we don’t get and a penalty is a crucial moment in the game with the result at 1-1, and I repeat that if FA wants to punish me they can punish me they don’t punish other managers but they punish me, it’s not a problem for me.
But I want to repeat because I think that I thing my players deserve it, Chelsea fans deserve it. I am a Chelsea fan too and I want to say it again. Referees are afraid to give decisions for Chelsea. Why? Because when they give there’s always a question mark from you, there’s always a question there’s always a critique.
So you are always punished, we are punished because Diego Costa is suspended with images, in other matches we see the same thing and it doesn’t happen. Clear penalties are not given and it’s one and one and one and one and even in Champions League in a match you lose 2-1, even in the Champions League which is a game which is not three officials but with five you are not given a penalty in last minute and this penalty in this game today is more than crucial do you know why? Because for my team in this moment the first negative thing that happen, my team collapse.
The team mentally, psychologically, the team is unbelievable down it looks like good players are bad players and the first half was a game where we didn’t show our quality but we were in control, we were more than in control, and one mistake and lack of concentration, one goal and when you are having a good time.
In normal circumstances you come to the second half and you do your game, I told the players at half time no panic we are not losing 4-0 it’s 1-1, no panic, the team comes out with a good spirit we have a penalty and the penalty is a giant penalty and he is afraid to give like everybody is afraid to give so no penalty and after that the team lost even more confidence and you know that their second goal is an individual mistake, their third goal is another individual mistake. The team mentally, they try, they try, they try, they are in such a low moment that they collapse.
I can also know what you are thinking, what you are saying in studio, what people imagine, what is is going to happen, what is not going to happen, I want to let it clear.
One, I not run away. Two, if the club wants to sack me they have to sack me because I’m not running away from my responsibilities from my team and from my convictions.
That, be champions is obviously very difficult because the distance is considerable but I’m more than convinced that we finish top four, and when the season is so bad if you finish top four it is OK.
Third even more important than first and second, I think this is a crucial moment in the history of this club.
Do you know why? Because if the club sacks me they sack the best manager that this club have, and secondly the message is again the message of bad result, the manager is guilty and this is the message that not just these players but the other ones before they got during a decade.
I think this is a moment for everybody to assume responsibility, I assume my responsibility I think the players should assume their responsibility and there are other people in the club that they should also assume their responsibilities and to stick together. And this is what I want.
The players they still have to play until the end of the season with the gold champions thing in their shirt and I want to work always, you know, I consider myself, I have a big self-esteem, a big ego, I consider myself the best, living the worst period of my career and worst results of my career, doing that as a professional hurts me a lot, doing it at Chelsea hurts me twice because it hurts me as a professional and hurts me because I like this club very, very much and was because of that that I come back so I want to carry on, I want to carry on no doubt, no doubt and I assume my responsibilities but I think it’s time for everybody to assume their responsibilities because when you go down to so many individual mistakes and fear to play, they have their responsibilities, they are players that are performing really, really bad individually, I can not come here and say you, and you, and you, and you, it’s not my job but I think it’s clear that we are being punished by too many individual mistakes and as I was saying sadness brings sadness, bad results they attract bad results, that first mistake is just the first because after that comes another one.
This team needs to win the first-half two or three nil with the fears disappearing coming to play in the second half and play with a free brain, a free spirit. This is what this team needs and unfortunately for them this is not happening and again I repeat so I want to make it clear again, because I not want to be offensive, I don’t want to be none-polite I don’t want to put in cause the dignity of the people, but I repeat that the referees they are afraid to give the decision when you are top you want to see people come down when people is down give us a break and be honest and be loyal with us because the penalty is clear and 2-1 is a completely different story.