Football: Mourinho denies lack of Villa 'respect'

Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho attends a news conference ahead of their Champions League Group G match against Sporting at the Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on Sept 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho attends a news conference ahead of their Champions League Group G match against Sporting at the Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on Sept 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

United Kingdom (AFP) - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hit back on Friday at claims he showed a lack of respect to Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert and his assistant Roy Keane.

Lambert and Keane were both critical of Mourinho's attempt to shake hands before the end of Chelsea's 3-0 victory over Villa at Stamford Bridge on September 27.

Former Manchester United captain Keane labelled Mourinho's actions "disgraceful" while Lambert backed up his deputy by saying: "My thoughts are exactly the same as Roy's on them. The game has not even finished. I just thought it was wrong. It's not the way I was brought up." But Mourinho - who has shaken hands with opposition managers before the final whistle on a number of occasions before - denied he was guilty of showing a lack of respect to the opposition.

Addressing a media briefing at his club's Cobham training ground, south of London, ahead of the Premier League leaders' trip to capital rivals Crystal Palace, Mourinho said: "First of all, I appreciate the comments.

"I think they are both two great examples of polite and very well educated people, and because I'm a humble guy who tries to learn every day and with every experience, I appreciate the comments," he added with a hint of sarcasm.

Asked if he would do the same thing again, Mourinho replied: "Yes." The week following the Villa clash, Portuguese boss Mourinho was involved in a touchline confrontation with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The Frenchman has subsequently apologised for pushing his opposite number but Mourinho insisted he had nothing more to add about the incident.

"I gave you my reaction after the match, saying nothing had happened. The reaction from everyone else was saying nothing had happened," Mourinho said Friday.

Mourinho revealed a number of players are doubtful for the trip to Selhurst Park including Diego Costa who required treatment following international duty with Spain.

The forward returned early from a previous Spain stint in early September after injuring a hamstring in a friendly with France.

Since then, Mourinho has maintained Costa must be nursed through his recovery and was not yet ready to play two games a week.

But Costa played the whole of Spain's defeat by Slovakia last Thursday before being used for all but eight minutes of the victory over Luxemburg four days later.

"The Spanish team played in Luxembourg on Sunday. I gave them Diego, (Cesc) Fabregas and (Cesar) Azpilicueta," Mourinho said.

"I gave the players two days off, Monday and Tuesday, so they had to report to train on Wednesday at 3pm (1400GMT).

"And Diego was here Monday at 9am. So you can imagine how strong he was to be here at 9am on Monday." The Chelsea manager confirmed he had not had contact with the Spain set-up ahead of the international break to discuss Costa's fitness levels.

He added: "I'm powerless. Because I know that, I don't waste my time contacting national teams.

"When they decide to contact me, I'm open to speak with them. But it's never my initiative to speak with them." Didier Drogba, Ramires, John Obi Mikel and Andre Schurrle are also rated doubtful to face Palace as Chelsea attempt to avenge a defeat by the Eagles in March that contributed to their failure to maintain their title challenge.

Mourinho was critical of his players after that loss and he said Friday: "It's part of my job, to try and find the best strategy to get the best out of my players.

"I love to praise my players publicly. I don't love to criticise them. But sometimes, either by strategy or by frustration, I've done it."