Mourinho could have left Costa out earlier

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho before the match on Nov 29.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho before the match on Nov 29. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has told Diego Costa that he was lucky not to be dropped sooner, after the Chelsea striker sulked on the substitutes' bench throughout Sunday's game at Tottenham Hotspur and then threw his bib in the direction of the manager.

The Spaniard did not appear for the pre-match warm-up, and, after conducting a half-hearted series of stretches towards the end of the second half, he tossed his bib towards Mourinho before disappearing straight down the tunnel.

The 27-year-old also missed the post-match warm-down and clambered and sat on his own on the Chelsea team bus within 10 minutes of the 0-0 draw ending.

Mourinho offered no sympathy afterwards to the side's top scorer for last season and claimed that Costa had enjoyed a privileged status for most of the campaign.

The Portuguese pointed out that all the first-team players have been left out at some stage this season and that Costa has been the last to be dropped despite scoring just four goals in all competitions.

"Diego is very privileged because he was the last one to be on the bench," Mourinho said. "Everyone else has been. Diego was privileged because I kept him in the team for all these matches.

"Today we thought the best strategy was this one. We're happy with the decision and with the performance of the players. If we had won 1-0, our performance would have been considered tremendous."

Mourinho insisted that he had no problem with Costa's histrionics, but his praise for Eden Hazard appeared telling.

The Belgium player replaced Costa as a false nine and went close to scoring on two occasions, leading Mourinho to describe Hazard's performance as his best this season.

"He did fantastically well," said the manager. "Even without scoring, his appetite to be important and make an impact was there."

Harry Redknapp, the former Tottenham manager, said "there would have been murders" had any player refused to warm up under him.

He said: "I've never had a player who didn't go out to warm up. If I had someone in the dressing room sitting with the hump because they weren't starting, there'd be murders in there."

Paul Scholes, Redknapp's fellow BT Sport pundit, criticised Costa and said the striker had no cause for complaint.

"I don't know what his problem is, it's not as if he's scoring goals and doing well," the former England international said. "I don't think his form warranted him playing. He's just not been good enough."

Costa is likely to return to Chelsea's starting line-up when they face relegation-threatened Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with Mourinho targeting an unbeaten run in their next 10 matches.

"The message to all my players, not just Diego, is that when we play as a team, the team is much better," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2015, with the headline 'Mourinho could have left Costa out earlier'. Print Edition | Subscribe