Mourinho excuses key men for Cup tie

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea team begin their campaign for the only domestic English honour the Portuguese coach has not yet won on Saturday, but as they head for West Yorkshire and Huddersfield Town's Galpharm Stadium, Frank Lampard and John Terry will concern themselves with the sun lounger and the swimming pool.

The two England internationals have been excused duty in the FA Cup third-round tie and given a four-day break by Mourinho which they have decided to spend in that Premiership footballers' paradise of Dubai. Terry has played in every game this season and Lampard has missed only the visit to Manchester City; their absence, and the resting of other key players, will give an opportunity to fringe players such as Glen Johnson, Robert Huth, Carlo Cudicini and Lassana Diarra.

With the unpleasant prospect of a trip to Upton Park over for Lampard, the England midfielder had more than just his treatment from the stands to be aggrieved about when he reflected on the 3-1 victory over West Ham United on Monday. The 27-year-old, who scored Chelsea's first goal, was booked in the second half for a clash with Carl Fletcher and revealed after the match that the Welsh international had repeated the gibes of the home supporters on the pitch.

Lampard said: "He [Fletcher] caught me, he said something and there's no need for it. When you come to a place like this and take some stick from the fans it's easy for a player to react on you to score a few points and that is what he was doing. It's as simple as that.

"It's a nonsense. He came through me and wanted to say something to me. I got booked and I was disappointed with that because I was just pointing out that fact to the ref. I am not going to criticise him because I don't know him very much, but for me it's [what Fletcher did] an easy way out."

Lampard took his time applauding the home crowd at the end of the match, which was not well-received among the West Ham supporters, who seem unwilling to acknowledge their mistake in alienating the midfielder when he was still a player at Upton Park. What appeared a gentle response to the provocation he had received all game was, Lampard said, a "moment to savour.

"I don't know why I really did it, I don't care when I come here and take stick," he said. "I think my dad said in the week that he was disappointed because he's a West Ham man but I no longer see myself as having contact with the club. I don't have any affiliation with them - only with the good people who work behind the scenes.

"So I was celebrating with the Chelsea fans. I took my time as I wanted to savour the moment. When I clapped them there was a few that clapped back and there was a few that didn't. But I am not bothered about them - I'm bothered we won the game."

Mourinho has told the Portuguese newspaper Record that the loan signing from Dynamo Moscow of the midfield player Maniche, who played for Mourinho in Portugal for both Benfica and Porto, is imminent.

The Chelsea manager said: "There is no hiding the fact that Maniche is close to coming to Chelsea. Tiago and [Alexei] Smertin both left without being replaced and we have a lot of games with suspension and injuries. The transfer window is open and the need has become obvious.

"I wanted a player who knows me perfectly and will adapt to the tempo, who can play with a high intensity. He has self-confidence, experience and can function in three midfield positions. He's the only player who has been with me at three different clubs. Maniche can be the final piece in stabilising the midfield."

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