LONDON • Jose Mourinho is often quick to obfuscate in the wake of defeat. But, after a 1-2 loss to an excellent Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge left Chelsea 13th in the English Premier League, the manager laid the blame squarely on his underperforming players.
If this was just Mourinho's second defeat in his 100th home league match in charge of the Blues, it was arguably Chelsea's worst English Premier League performance in his twin spells at the club.
The second loss in four league ties leaves the champions eight points off leaders Manchester City.
"I cannot say I had 11 players at the same time performing," he said after the game. "Two or three of them, their individual performances were far from good.
"I blame myself for not changing one of them. I kept him in the game for 90 minutes and when I made the third change, I realised I needed a fourth.
NOT IN TOP FORM
Two or three of them, their individual performances were far from good. I blame myself for not changing one of them.
JOSE MOURINHO, Chelsea manager, who hauled off left-back Cesar Azpilicueta and midfielder Nemanja Matic
This is only Jose Mourinho's second Premier League defeat in 100 matches at Stamford Bridge, the first being a 1-2 loss to Sunderland in April last year
"I'm not happy because, for me, a performance is a collective performance of 11 players at the same time.
"At this level, when opponents are good and well organised with nothing to lose, when you have this type of matches at this level, you need people to perform."
He refused to reveal which player he had wanted to take off. But given the poverty of Chelsea's performance, he could have taken his pick from Branislav Ivanovic - who was again worryingly vulnerable against the excellent Bakary Sako - to Cesc Fabregas.
The latter was entirely outgunned by Palace's own midfield playmaker Jason Puncheon.
The Blues boss will have an uncomfortable international break now as he mulls over the fate of his unconvincing players.
"If a player is not performing, there are two ways to look at it. The first one is, I trust the player so much that I will wait for the improvement," he said.
"You wait, wait and wait and maybe it comes or doesn't come.
"Or, even while you are trusting the players, there comes a moment when you think I have to change.
"And I can go both ways."
While his comments are as close to threatening his players with the sack as can be, Mourinho insists he has no plans to spend big in the final few days of the transfer window in an attempt to end the London club's early malaise.
Everton defender John Stones and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba are two big-money targets both linked to Chelsea.
However, Mourinho says he will not spend his way out of trouble.
"I gave my club a report of my season projection on April 24," the manager explained.
"I don't think it's now, on the 29th or 30th of August, to say, 'I want this and that or I want to try this and that.' We have to gel.
"The reality is that we have had a bad start.
"Four points (from four matches) is a very bad start.
"To perform collectively, you need individual performances.
"The amount of chances means you are producing something.
"But it's not enough."
Nevertheless, Mourinho said there was plenty of time for his side to re-ignite their title challenge.
"We have eight points less than the leader and seven, six and five from the others.
"In another league, I would say, 'game over'.
"In the Premier League, I don't say 'game over' because, last season, we had seven points (lead) to the second team and, in one month, we lost the seven points.
"This is the Premier League and I think it's getting more difficult."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN