ASTON Villa manager Paul Lambert insists his pitch-side exchanges with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge were predominantly “banter”.
The pair were engaged in what appeared to be some heated arguments by the touchline during Chelsea’s 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Villa on Wednesday evening, with Lambert unhappy about two particular incidents. The Scot felt Branislav Ivanovic should have been sent off for catching Christian Benteke with an arm – the defender instead received a booking, before going on to score the winning goal – and that Villa were denied a legitimate penalty late on for a handball by John Terry.
Asked yesterday if he had calmed down, Lambert said: “I was calm last night. I think there has been a lot made of me and Jose in the technical area. There was the odd little thing, but there was a lot of banter between us.”
When it was put to him that Mourinho had said after the match that Lambert “complains with every decision”, the 44-year-old said: “So did he. It is the same. The two of us shout at referees and officials and everything. I’m not going to go there and lie down, and neither is Jose. A lot has been made of me moaning – he does his fair share as well, just to let you know. It is not a problem. We had a bit of banter between us and I saw him afterwards. I like him and he is a brilliant football manager. There was never a problem.”
Lambert, who was speaking at a press conference to preview tomorrow’s home league clash with Liverpool, also suggested Chelsea would have been awarded a penalty if an incident similar to Terry’s apparent handball had occurred in the home team’s box in Wednesday night’s game.
Regarding Kevin Friend, the referee for the match, Lambert said: “I spoke to Kevin afterwards, and obviously what is said in there stays in there. But I didn’t need to speak to him really – it was a clear handball. It’s a stone-waller, a clear penalty. I don’t care what anyone says, that is a penalty.
“I’m pretty sure if it had been down the other end, it would have been given.”