Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is focused only on Wembley and not the future as he refused to dwell on Nemanja Matic’s two-match suspension which rules the midfielder out of tomorrow’s Capital One Cup final with Tottenham.
Matic was banned for violent conduct after reacting furiously to a challenge by Burnley’s Ashley Barnes in last Saturday’s Premier League draw. The automatic three-match ban was reduced to two in mitigation but the Blues announced they were “appalled” and “frustrated” by the decision not to absolve the Serbian midfielder.
Mourinho, who last weekend labelled Barnes’ challenge “criminal”, would not comment on Matic’s Wembley absence. “If I give you my views, it’s bad for me,” said Mourinho, speaking ahead of the clash with Spurs at Wembley. “I can’t give you my views. If I speak again about the Matic situation I’ll be in big trouble.”
Mourinho has lamented a “clear campaign” against his side this season, but hopes he will not have further reason to complain in “a final we have to win” as he bids for a first trophy of his second spell. He hopes tomorrow’s officials, led by referee Anthony Taylor, operate at their optimum
“It’s easy for me to say that I don’t believe that anyone involved in this game doesn’t want to make his best,” Mourinho said. “I believe all three teams will go with the same ambition to do very well and hopefully even the players that like to complicate things try to make the final a good final.”
Mourinho declined to name names, but he has been outspoken in his criticism of Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen this season.
Mourinho was speaking ten years to the day since winning his first trophy as Chelsea boss, a 3-2 defeat of Liverpool in the 2005 League Cup final.
Chelsea went on to win the championship for the first time in 50 years that season and this term are bidding for a first Premier League title in five years. The Blues are five points clear of second-placed Manchester City, who have an opportunity to cut the gap to two points tomorrow with victory at Liverpool.
But Mourinho says he is thinking only of the Wembley match. “Since I arrived in July 2013 it’s the first time I don’t think about the future of this club,” he said. “I just think about this game. We have a final to win on Sunday and nothing else matters.”
Chelsea beat Tottenham 3-0 on 3 December at Stamford Bridge, but in the return fixture on New Year’s Day they lost 5-3 at White Hart Lane and boss Mauricio Pochettino believes his side must recreate that display if they are to lift the cup. Spurs may go into the final on the back of a 2-0 defeat against Fiorentina which saw them knocked out of the Europa League but the Argentine remains confident a first trophy since 2008 is possible.
“We got this victory against Chelsea on 1 January and it is important for belief,” he said. “I think it will be a different game, a final is always different. If you saw the game, our performance was nearly perfect and we played very well. We need to repeat the same performance to come close to winning the trophy. It is true there have been many years without a trophy so this is a very good chance to give the club another.”
Pochettino will come up against Mourinho once again, with the duo having faced one another in the Primera Division with Mourinho at Real Madrid whilst Pochettino was in charge of Espanyol. “We have a very good relationship from Spain,” he said of his Portuguese counterpart.
“He is a manager I admire a lot. I think he is one of the best, if not the best, in the world. For me it is an honour to play a final against him.
“In our minds we feel we are always stronger than the opponent – we work hard to provide that feeling to the players and it is a very positive thing for us.”
Mourinho has been outspoken against the level of officiating this term but Pochettino is not worried about the officials being influenced in the final.
“No, I don’t think the decisions of the referee will be affected,” he added. “They are professional and we have trust in them. I don’t think we need to be scared or worry about that.”