LONDON: Jose Mourinho said he felt “betrayed” by his players after a 2-1 defeat at Leicester left the champions one point above the Premier League relegation zone.
This was Chelsea’s ninth league reverse of the season leaving Mourinho’s men 20 points behind the table-topping Foxes.
Leicester owed victory to goals from Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy – with substitute Loic Remy pulling one back for the visitors – but Mourinho remained defiant.
He said: “A relegation battle? No I don’t believe this. We are in the relegation zone – an area in the table. But to be in a battle is to be there for three or four months and I don’t think this will be so.”
Chelsea’s fall from grace is remarkable but Mourinho did offer an explanation.
“One possibility is that I did an amazing job last season and brought the players to a level that is not their level and now they can’t maintain it
“One of my best qualities is that I can read the game and identify the strengths of the opponent and tell my players what they are. So it is a big frustration to accept the goals because my work was betrayed, if that is the right word.
“I worked four days on this match. I prepared everything related to the opponent. I identified four movements where they scored almost all their goals.
“My players got all that information, you can ask them, they are honest guys who will tell you it is true. But in the situations I identify, we concede the first and second goal. The mistakes were there.”
Mourinho was forced to make a change after half an hour when Eden Hazard appeared to hurt his hip after going to ground under a challenge from Jamie Vardy.
The Chelsea boss said he did not know what the problem was with Hazard, whose form and confidence, as with many of his team-mates, has dipped this season.
“I don’t know what is wrong. The only thing I know is that within 10 seconds he made the decision himself,” said Mourinho.
“He came off and said straight away he couldn’t do it. Then he tried and immediately he came back off.”
The win saw Leicester move two points clear at the top of the table but manager Claudio Ranieri insisted his aim remains to reach the widely accepted 40-point total that guarantees Premier League survival.
“We wanted to put on a fantastic performance for the fans because they are dreaming and we want them to continue to dream,” said former Chelsea manager Ranieri.
“We concentrated for 95 minutes against the champions and this is not easy.
“We are top of the league but I want five more points. You laugh but I do. And I don’t know where these five points are going to come from. Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bournemouth and Tottenham are all very tough games.
“Let me achieve 40 points and then I will look at the next goal.”