Jose Mourinho has claimed that Luis Suarez dived to try to win a penalty against Samuel Eto’o and that it was in the Liverpool striker’s “cultural nature” to do anything to win games.
After his side’s 2-1 win here the Chelsea manager denied that it was a clear penalty missed by referee Howard Webb, when Eto’o stepped across Suarez with seven minutes left as the Liverpool man tried to retrieve possession from Cesar Azpilicueta. In an interview on television, Mourinho added that it looked “like somebody shot him [Suarez] in the back” and that the player should have been booked. In his press conference later, Mourinho said that Suarez was a “very nice boy” who had been successfully changed by Rodgers but that there was another side to his character.
“He’s changed. But when you are losing, the nature comes out of the player. The wild nature, the cultural nature of the player. Culturally, people from that area [of South America], they like it [simulation]. Not just that area. There’s a corner in Europe, where I belong too, where they like [that].
“Azpilicueta had the ball, he was leaving the box with the ball, and now he [Suarez] is doing an acrobatic swimming pool jump to try and get the penalty. He’s so clever he knows he’s in the penalty area with the Liverpool supporters [in the stand] behind. Webb is 10 metres away and the only mistake he made was not giving him a yellow card. Of the 10 penalty [appeals] in the game, only one: Lucas on [Eden] Hazard [should have been a penalty].”
Yet, even Mourinho did not seem entirely convinced and turned the argument around when it was put to him that most of the television pundits had felt it was a penalty. “There are lots of people on TV, but nobody a Chelsea man. Jamie Carragher? Liverpool. Alan Hansen? Liverpool. Phil Thompson? Liverpool. Jamie Redknapp? Liverpool. Mark Lawrenson? Liverpool. We don’t have one. When I retire, 75 years old, I go as a pundit to defend Chelsea on television.”
Mourinho praised his team’s performance but said he believed that Manchester City were title favourites. “I keep thinking that there is a big difference between Man City and the other teams,” he said.
“Not just about quality, because other teams have quality. We have quality too. But quality, maturity, numbers of players, a group of strikers, physicality, experience, age, no young players, no old players, just players in the best stage [of their careers]. For me, they are the favourites.”
Brendan Rodgers said that Eto’o could have been sent off for a foul on Jordan Henderson in the first few minutes. “Let’s talk about the first Eto’o incident when he should have been sent off. I know we scored from it, but that was a wild shank where he’s come down his knee and shin and didn’t even get a yellow card. That’s the first wild challenge.
“The second one [by Eto’o], Luis will always provoke a challenge from defenders in the box. That’s why he’s world-class. What he wouldn’t expect is it coming from somebody off the ball. He blocks him. That could have been a penalty on another day as obstruction in the area. But he [Mourinho] will defend his players. I will defend mine.”
He added: “It was always going to be a tough schedule for us even with everyone fit in the squad. I can only give credit to the players. We were outstanding at Man City and didn’t quite get the result. We showed moments of the quality [against Chelsea] we’ve had over the course of the season, but to keep the game so tight even to the death ... said everything about the determination in the squad I have here. We’ve taken on two squads who are in Europe.”