José Mourinho has admitted to being "surprised" Mike Riley chose to apologise to West Bromwich Albion for the award of a stoppage-time penalty at Stamford Bridge this month and has suggested the head of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd had set a dangerous precedent.
Riley telephoned the West Brom manager, Steve Clarke, in the wake of Andre Marriner's decision to penalise Steven Reid for what he believed had been a foul on Ramires in the game at Stamford Bridge on 9 November. That apology was revealed, and accepted, by Clarke, though Riley has also since indicated publicly that the official "should have played on" following the 94th-minute coming together inside the penalty area. As it was, Eden Hazard converted the penalty and secured Chelsea's 2-2 draw.
"I'm surprised but maybe the people who are surprised are old-fashioned and maybe these are new times," said Mourinho before Saturday's trip to West Ham. "Maybe, from now on, Mr Riley is going to do the same with every other club and manager. If that's the situation, let's welcome new times. I'm very curious to know if it was just an isolated phone call. I'm interested to know if that was the start and, from now on, it'll be the same for everybody. I'm very curious to know, and to know the consequences of it.
"At least the referees now know one thing: if [there is] a controversial decision, and I'm not saying a 'mistake', that hypothetically – and, I repeat, hypothetically – favours Chelsea, they know they are going to be publicly exposed by their boss. That they know. They can make – hypothetically – mistakes favouring other teams[and] nothing happens.
"I'm curious to know if Steve Bruce got a phone call. I'm interested to know if Chris Hughton got a phone call. I'm interested to know if [Michael] Laudrup got a phone call. Nobody called me to apologise about the fact that it was not a free-kick against West Bromwich just before their second goal, or the penalty at Everton that would have been 1-1 for us. I don't know if Paul Lambert got a phone call. I don't know."
The Swansea manager, Laudrup, has confirmed he spoke with Riley in the wake of Robert Madley's award of a late penalty for Stoke at the Liberty Stadium, though opted against making the details of the call public. Riley has made himself available to managers to discuss contentious incidents, a policy encouraged by PGMOL and the League Managers' Association, though the implication of Mourinho's words was that the apology may now dissuade referees from making "controversial" decisions that favour Chelsea.
The Portuguese remains adamant that Reid fouled Ramires, therefore justifying Marriner's decision at the time. The draw with West Brom had ended with visiting players making their frustration clear out on the pitch and Mourinho exchanging angry words with their Swedish centre-half, Jonas Olsson, in the tunnel as the sides retreated at full-time. The Chelsea manager described that altercation as "insignificant" but was critical of the player for exposing details of the argument.
"Giant players, giant coaches and giant clubs don't speak about what happens in the tunnel," he said. "The game is the game. The game had finished. In the tunnel, sometimes, a couple of things happen. A couple of words. Not aggressions. Nothing. But giant clubs, giant players and giant managers close their mouth. The next day is another day." Asked why people should not talk about such things, he added: "Because they are insignificant. If something important happens, of course yes. I even think that, why not every tunnel to have a CCTV camera to record everything that happens there? Why not? But, when the biggest insult of the tunnel is 'Mickey Mouse'? Well … imagine if you say 'Goofy.'"
Mourinho confirmed Ashley Cole, who was withdrawn during England's midweekdefeat by Germany after aggravating a rib injury, will be on the bench against West Ham at Upton Park with César Azpilicueta retaining his place at left-back. Indeed the onus is on the 32-year-old stalwart, who first suffered the injury at Norwich in October, to earn back his position in the first-team having not featured since the defeat at Newcastle. "There is no dilemma: I play Azpilicueta because he's stronger at this moment," said the Chelsea manager. "He's physically at the top of his game. He's strong.
"Ashley is a top professional. He doesn't need messages. He just needs time to recover 100% and put himself at the top of his game and fight better. He's not the kind of personality you need to leave on the bench to send him a message that he has to give more. No way. He doesn't need that. He's not injured, but he feels pain. It's a limitation. Can he sprint 100%? Maybe not. Can he jump 100%? Maybe not. But he's not injured. If he was, he'd not be playing. He just has a little limitation."
The Chelsea winger, Kevin de Bruyne, will speak with the club's hierarchy next month to determine whether he should be loaned out for the second half of the season having failed to start a league game since August. The Belgian is concerned about his prospects of making his country's World Cup squad – there has been interest from Bundesliga clubs such as Schalke and Wolfsburg – with his compatriot, Thibault Courtois, also seeking reassurances ahead of talks over a new contract at Chelsea. The goalkeeper is in the second of two seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid and has two-and-a-half years to run on his current deal, with the Londoners seeking to prolong the terms.