José Mourinho accepted responsibility for Chelsea's sloppy defeat by Basel after admitting he had picked the wrong side in Switzerland, with the players he selected suffering from "fatigue" and lacking sharpness after the international break.
The Portuguese had made only one change from Saturday's excellent victory at West Ham but a team who had been dominant at Upton Park failed to muster a shot on target for the first time since 2001 in European competition. Schalke's goalless draw at Steaua Bucharest ensured Chelsea progressed regardless, but they must beat the Romanians at home next month to win the group.
"The only positive is we go through, but we don't go through because we got a result," said Mourinho. "We go through because Schalke didn't get a result, and that is not the same. I can only find one reason for the performance, and I saw signs of it from the first minute: my team were tired. We paid the price today of the international week, and from the game against West Ham where we had put in an outstanding performance. But we made a big mistake in the first second of this game, immediately, and after that we made mistakes defensively, with the ball, lost easy passes, lost the ball... and we finished with a ridiculous goal.
"It's not the kind of game where I'm very upset with the players because I think I get it: I understood. Maybe I should have made more changes from Saturday, but when the team's played so well, you want to give them more confidence, you want them to keep that going. But I could see many signs of fatigue. I'd spoken with all of the players individually before I made the team decision, and all of them had told me they were perfect to play. They wanted to play. They'd recovered well from the international week and Saturday, but the reality is they weren't. In positions where I had other solutions, probably I should have changed the team. Today is a day when I'm disappointed, not upset with the players."
Their sloppy display was summed up by Basel's late winning goal, Fabian Schär's diagonal pass catching out Chelsea's back-line for Mohamed Salah to dart through and convert over the otherwise excellent Petr Cech. Asked who had been at fault for the goal, Mourinho said: "Everybody. Everybody. The goal is ridiculous. Ridiculous. They were sleeping. If they weren't sleeping, how could that goal go in? When you are tired, you sleep. When you are tired, you think slow. It's true. When you are tired you react late.
"Even in attacking situations, in the last 25 minutes we had situations in the Basel box where, even then, we thought slowly and reacted slowly. We had situations to score but had bad control, no sharpness. The team was tired. When the team is tired, defensive and attacking mistakes can happen, and you concede goals that you never normally concede. But Basel deserved the bonus. They were the better team."