LONDON: When Jose Mourinho flew back to Chelsea he proclaimed that the ‘Special One’ was now the ‘Happy One’. That smile had evaporated after Everton inflicted his first Premier League defeat for six years.
Chelsea squandered a host of chances and, to add insult to injury, a team whose substitutes alone had cost £130m, were beaten by a free-transfer journeyman. A header just before half-time from Steven Naismith, on his 27th birthday, provided new Everton manager Roberto Martinez with his first league victory since succeeding David Moyes.
That was a perfect response for Everton after the departure – also to Manchester United – of Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini. But then, Everton have always spelled trouble for Chelsea: Carlo Ancelotti was sacked there and Andre Villas-Boas was doomed after he lost to Everton.
Mourinho’s team had only themselves to blame. They dominated much of the first half but then Petr Cech and Ashley Cole hesitated as Ross Barkley, Leon Osman and Nikica Jelavic set up Naismith who was playing only after Steven Pienaar had been injured in training.
Already Chelsea should have been in front but Samuel Eto’o, reunited with his old Internazionale coach, showed all the finishing foibles of the man he had been signed to replace, Fernando Torres. He missed an open goal after only four minutes and had another effort cleared off the line.
The second chance was created by Andre Schurrle after seizing on a misplaced clearance by goalkeeper Tim Howard. Schurrle squared the ball to Eto’o, near the penalty spot, but Gareth Barry had read the danger and slid back to save the day.
Mourinho blamed the German rather than the Cameroonian, saying: “The ball from Schurrle was too slow . . . maybe our players don’t have the killer instinct at the moment.”
Schurrle had a chance to make amends, minutes after half-time, but though he clipped an angled shot over the advancing Howard the ball drifted behind the post. Ten minutes later Schurrle and Juan Mata were replaced by Frank Lampard and Oscar but all to no avail.
“Sometimes it happens in football,” said Mourinho. “Sometimes you create chance after chance and things don’t work out. You have to live with it. One day perhaps we’ll have three chances, score three goals and win 3:0.”
Perhaps that will be on Wednesday, when Chelsea host Basel in the Champions League.