Football - Mourinho slams Gullit in Mata row

Jose Mourinho has hit out at critics including former Chelsea boss Ruud Gullit over his treatment of Juan Mata.

Reuters
Football - Mourinho slams Gullit in Mata row
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Juan Mata sits behind the Chelsea bench (Reuters)

The Spaniard has been dropped from the first-team squad entirely and watched from the stands – along with David Luiz – as Chelsea beat Fulham 2-0 to go top of the Premier League on Saturday.

Mourinho was involved in a terse on-air exchange with Sky pundits Gullit and Jamie Redknapp who have questioned his freezing out of fans’ favourite Mata, who was the Chelsea’s Player of the Year last season.

He later defended his stance, taking shots at the TV duo.

“I am not trying to change Mata’s position,” Mourinho said. “People have an opinion, but I am manager not Jamie Redknapp. I want him to be more persistent and be intelligent with the ball.

“We have had a philosophy that has won titles. I have been in the game a long time. I don’t want to change that too much but you have to because time moves on. The owner knows this.

“England is full of good pundits, commentators, no problem with me. I respect opinions and I try to do my job. It’s more difficult to be a manager than a commentator.”

He singled Stamford Bridge legend Gullit out for special treatment, adding: “Ruud Gullit is a different pundit because he was also a manager. I think he shouldn’t be a very proud manager for what he did in the last three years.”

[PAPER ROUND: BENITEZ TO TAKE MATA TO NAPOLI]

Mourinho made it clear Oscar was his first-choice midfield orchestrator.

He said: "I hope he (Mata) tells me on the pitch, 'You are wrong, I am the best and I have to play every game'.

"I would love that. That is to be professional. My idea is that he is a top kid and a very good professional and I'm waiting for a professional reaction.

"History doesn't play. The past is the past and you have to be judged on what you do now," added Mourinho after Chelsea ended a dismal run of three consecutive defeats in three different competitions.

Asked how the Spaniard reacted to his exclusion, Mourinho replied: "He took it the way I want. He trained this morning and my assistant told me he trained very, very hard so at the start the answer is very good.

"I gave Juan the chance to play from the beginning against Aston Villa and against Everton and I also gave him 35 minutes (as a substitute) against Basel - it's not the same as say Michael Essien.

"I have not played Essien for one single minute and I left him off our Champions League squad list. The point is that I have my options but the thing I most love in football is when my players prove me wrong.

"If Juan proves that I am wrong then I will be the happy one," Mourinho added with a smile, "because I want him to be fantastic."

[REPORT: MIKEL SCORES AS CHELSEA GO TOP]

Earlier, the Chelsea manager gave a heavy hint that the skilful Mata would have to improve his defensive work in order to win a regular place in the team.

The 25-year-old Spaniard will get an instant opportunity to change Mourinho's opinion of him when he plays against League One Swindon Town in the Capital One Cup third round on Tuesday.

"The people who didn't play today are going to play," said Mourinho. "Juan, Essien, David Luiz, Ryan Bertrand and Cesar Azpilicueta.

"We will have to work on other things in training tomorrow to work the team that is going to play. Now we have a period of four consecutive away matches against Swindon, Tottenham, Norwich and Steaua Bucharest so we have to prepare the best we can."

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