Football: Chelsea players still behind Mourinho, says Begovic

Chelsea's Diego Costa (right) and Willian react after Stoke took a 1-0 lead.
Chelsea's Diego Costa (right) and Willian react after Stoke took a 1-0 lead.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (REUTERS) - Chelsea's players are still fully behind Jose Mourinho, said goalkeeper Asmir Begovic after Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Stoke City plunged the manager's future with the Premier League champions into fresh doubt.

The Londoners suffered their seventh league defeat of a torrid season and are now just three points above the relegation zone, a remarkable situation for a team that won the title by an eight-point margin six months ago.

Mourinho was banned from watching at Stoke's Britannia Stadium by the FA after making abusive comments to referee Jon Moss at West Ham United last month.

According to media reports, the outspoken Portuguese watched Saturday's game at the nearby team hotel.

Former Stoke keeper Begovic said Mourinho's "spirit and presence" was with the side as they produced one of their better performances of the season only to succumb to a fine second-half volley from Marko Arnautovic.

Asked if he was concerned about the prospect of a change of manager, Bosnia international Begovic told Sky Sports: "That is out of our control but we are behind the manager, you can see that from our performances. "We are fighting for one another, fighting for everyone involved. We think he's the right man. "It's just unfortunate that we're not giving him the results that our performances deserve at the moment." On whether Mourinho had been missed at the stadium, Begovic explained the manager had given his briefing at the team hotel before they left for the Britannia. "His spirit and his presence is always there, he's always around us and prepared us well and we wanted to get a result for him. So it was a pity," Begovic said. "We definitely did enough to get a result here but when things aren't going your way, you don't get the luck you deserve. We hit the post, we slipped over when we had open goals, we are making things hard for ourselves." Whether Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich continues to be as supportive of his manager remains to be seen.

The club issued a statement after last month's home defeat by Southampton saying that Mourinho still had their "full support".

Chelsea fans at the Britannia remained faithful to their 'Special One', singing his praises repeatedly throughout the game.