LONDON • Jose Mourinho had harsh words for his players after Chelsea narrowly avoided defeat at Newcastle, rating his side's first-half display in their 2-2 draw among the worst he had experienced in his seven years at the club.
Newcastle went into the game having led for just 31 minutes in the Premier League this season.
Yet, they put the champions on the back foot in the 42nd minute.
Kurt Zouma failed to head clear a cross which enabled Ayoze Perez to put the hosts in front.
And more slack marking - this time by Cesc Fabregas - left Georginio Wijnaldum free to head their second on the hour.
"In the first half, from 0 to 10, we were minus one. It was that bad," Mourinho said.
"We were so poor, so bad. At half-time, I said I was sorry I only had three substitutes as I wanted to change six.
"There were too many individual performances that were awful. When so many individuals are playing so badly, it is impossible for a team to be a team."
Chelsea looked like suffering a fourth defeat in the space of seven Premier League matches when they were still 0-2 behind with 11 minutes left.
But Ramires sparked the recovery with a long-range shot in the 79th minute. He then distracted Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul sufficiently to enable Willian's free kick to find a way past the custodian in the 86th minute.
Mourinho said the game had been saved by the introduction of Ramires and Willian as substitutes. But he still cannot put a finger on how Chelsea "can play so bad in one half and so well in the other".
"They took the game to a different level and brought us both the goals to earn the point," he said of the Brazilian duo.
"Ramires is one of the few players we have who can shoot from outside the box so he is a good option to bring on when the opposition is using a low block and making it difficult to get into the penalty area."
Still waiting for his first league win at St James' Park, in either of his spells in England, Mourinho then went on to suggest that part of the reason is that Newcastle pick their matches.
"Against some teams, they sweat blood, and against others, they don't," he said. "It is an attitude typical of a team that wins nothing though I think Newcastle deserved a point today for the way they fought. They gave everything."
Newcastle's spirited showing was a welcome tonic after a difficult few weeks on Tyneside. Steve McClaren's men are still searching for their first league victory and remain in the bottom three.
The Magpies went into the game reeling from their humiliating midweek League Cup defeat by second-tier Sheffield Wednesday.
"We could have won it at the end, we could have lost it," McClaren said after Ramires forced a fantastic last-minute save from Krul.
"A win would have taken our self-belief up a notch, and we were close, but I think, in the end, we all have to be satisfied with a great performance.
"The response to the poor performance in midweek was exactly what I was looking for.
"We showed a togetherness and I am not just talking about the players but the supporters.
"That was much more like it and we have set a benchmark now, a standard. That is how we want to play every week."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE