LONDON • Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said a top-six Premier League finish may be the best the champions can hope for after an eighth defeat of the campaign against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Substitute Glenn Murray's 82nd-minute header at Stamford Bridge condemned Chelsea to a 0-1 loss that left them three points above the relegation zone and 14 points adrift of the Champions League places.
Mourinho had previously insisted that his men were still capable of breaking into the top four. But he admitted that he might have to revise his objectives after their latest abject result, with qualification for the Europa League more realistic than securing a place in the Champions League.
Even then, no team have finished higher than eighth following a haul of 15 points from as many games.
- Chelsea have lost to a newly-promoted team for the first time in 44 home league matches.
It is the only time that Jose Mourinho has fallen to a newly-promoted team at home in his career.
The Blues have tasted four home league defeats this season. They lost just thrice at Stamford Bridge in their last three full seasons combined.
No side have conceded more goals in the last 15 minutes of games than Chelsea. Norwich have also let in seven.
"Before this game, I was still thinking we could finish top four," Mourinho said.
"Everyone up there is losing points. Only Leicester are consistent in victories, they keep winning and winning. Every other team, even the top ones, are finding consecutive victories difficult.
"So, before the game, it was realistic to think our quality would take us out of this position, but maybe now we have to think about top six.
"I am concerned, of course. There is no chance that Chelsea will be fighting relegation.
"That is not the problem. It is that our objective is to finish top four."
Murray had been on the pitch for only 99 seconds when he headed home from close range, and was actually offside when he did so.
Earlier, Bournemouth survived a penalty appeal when substitute Diego Costa's cross hit Simon Francis on his arm.
Mourinho also suggested that Bournemouth had indulged in time-wasting.
"They played in a way that some call intelligent, some say is not fair play," he said.
"They were taking time, calling for the medical department and drinking water like it is a basketball timeout."
Yet, few would begrudge the newly-promoted side playing in their first term in the top-flight.
Their squad cost £30 million (S$63.3 million), compared to Chelsea's £285 million.
Their starting XI cost £1.7 million compared to the hosts' £213 million. The Blues' bench alone had £73.5 million worth of talent, including Costa.
The Spaniard came on at half-time but he could not get on the scoresheet.
Murray did, and his contribution marked Bournemouth's 18th league goal this season. Chelsea have 17.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, understandably, was not short of reasons to celebrate.
"We have never been in the Premier League before so when you come to the champions and beat them, I think it must rank as the best individual result of the club's history," he said after seeing his side haul themselves out of the relegation zone and get within two points of Chelsea.
"Hopefully, it will be talked about for a long time to come and, hopefully, there are more moments like that ahead... "