LONDON • Jose Mourinho has tried to douse the flames of controversy surrounding him and Chelsea's medical staff, as he left the door open for club doctor Eva Carneiro and physiotherapist Jon Fearn to return to the Blues' bench in future.
The Portuguese had come under widespread criticism after he scaled back the responsibilities of the duo after last Saturday's 2-2 Premier League draw with Swansea, telling reporters after the game that the pair were "impulsive and naive" in leaving the Blues with just nine men in stoppage time as they tended to Eden Hazard.
Media reports during the week claimed that Mourinho then axed the pair from the bench for tomorrow's Manchester City clash. They also would not be allowed to travel with the first team.
Speaking at his weekly press conference yesterday ahead of the trip to the Etihad Stadium, the Portuguese read out a pre-prepared statement addressing the furore.
NO HARM DONE
If someone thinks a disagreement between staff could have an effect on preparations, he doesn't have a clue about football.''
JOSE MOURINHO Chelsea manager, in his riposte to criticism from Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger
"Dr Jon Fearn and Dr Eva Carneiro will not be on the bench, but that doesn't mean for the rest of the season," he said. "It is my decision, my responsibility, but my decision does not mean they won't be on the bench in the future.
"I have seven assistants, only four can go on the bench. We have four kitmen, only one can (be on the bench). For some it is important to be on the bench, for others it is more important what they do behind the scenes.
"I want to say I have a fantastic medical department led by Dr Paco Biosca, I have a good relationship with them. They tell me all the time that they were never praised as much as they were by me in the last two years. They also told me that we have had disagreements during that period, and we need disagreements to improve. We work together and we improve together. That is the way we do things."
He was asked later if he regretted his outburst, and he said: "The game is emotional. The match is the match. Everything after the match can be different, especially after the meeting I had with my medical department yesterday."
Whether his comments will defuse the tense situation at Stamford Bridge remains to be seen, as new video footage shows Mourinho erupting into a rage when his medical duo rushed onto the pitch to treat Hazard.
The footage suggested Mourinho may have shouted the words "filha de puta" ("daughter of a whore") in his native Portuguese as he raged at his medical staff.
Others weighed in on the controversy yesterday. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, a long-time rival of Mourinho, suggested that the row might have damaged unity within Chelsea. "It is a problem inside the club, if you are not united," the Frenchman said.
Mourinho appeared to dismiss his rival's comments, saying: "If someone thinks a disagreement between staff could have an effect on preparations, he doesn't have a clue about football."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE