LONDON • Jose Mourinho pledged he would sleep easily after Chelsea's defence of the League Cup ended in a 4-5 penalty shootout loss to Stoke City, and claimed his players' performance proved their support for him.
With Chelsea 15th in the Premier League - another competition which they won last season - their manager's future remains up in the air as they head into Saturday's game with Liverpool. But Mourinho cut a more composed figure despite this latest setback.
Nine penalty-takers scored before Jack Butland brilliantly saved Eden Hazard's kick after Loic Remy's last-ditch equaliser had taken the fourth-round tie into extra-time following Jonathan Walters' opener.
Chelsea could not capitalise on a 30-minute spell against 10 men after Phil Bardsley was sent off in stoppage time.
Mourinho has until evening today to decide whether to appeal against the latest FA misconduct charge, for his behaviour towards referee Jonathan Moss, as he was sent to the stands at half-time in Saturday's 1-2 loss at West Ham.
CHELSEA PAYING THE PENALTY
The Blues have lost all five of their shoot-outs under Jose Mourinho.
Stoke City (a) League Cup round of 16: 4-5
Bayern Munich (n) Uefa Super Cup: 4-5
Manchester United (n) Community Shield: 0-3
Liverpool (a) Champions League semi-final: 1-4
Charlton Athletic (h) League Cup third round: 4-5
Stoke have never lost to Chelsea in eight League Cup meetings.
But he was comfortable with the "emotional control" his players displayed during a "quality" performance at the Britannia Stadium.
"I have a day off (today) with my fantastic family," he said. "I sleep well and then I enjoy my day. Thursday is one more day like the last 15 years of my life."
Asked whether he required a show of support from Chelsea, Mourinho replied: "I don't need. You think my players are not with me? You think my players are not giving everything to win the game?
"I think that's really sad, not to me but to the players. It's a lack of respect. For me, it would be a fantastic situation if the players were not for me because, if we didn't get results, I could say it was because the players were against me.
"My players are not like that. Last year, we won here 2-0 (in the Premier League) and we didn't play 25 per cent of what we play today. I think they have to be very frustrated not getting what they deserve."
He made three changes to the side who lost at West Ham. Oscar, John Obi Mikel and Abdul Baba Rahman came in for Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic (suspended) and Cesar Azpilicueta respectively.
And Mourinho may yet rue starting striker Diego Costa, who picked up a rib injury during the game that could rule him out for the league clash against Liverpool.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes told the club's website: "Chelsea are a very good team and it took a huge effort from my guys to overcome them this evening.
"You saw by the strength of the side that Jose picked tonight that we are respected by them and knew that they were in for a real challenge against us.
"We were able to stand toe-to-toe with them and eventually take the game away from them, thankfully."
Penalties were also needed in the other two ties as second-tier Hull City defeated in-form Premier League side Leicester City (5-4) while Everton beat Norwich City (4-3). Both matches ended 1-1 after extra-time.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS