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Ball boy gets sage advice from Chelsea boss

Updated: 2014-03-31 07:48
By Agence France-Presse in London ( China Daily)

Jose Mourinho admitted he spoke to a ball boy during Chelsea's shocking 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday because he feared a confrontation between the youngster and one of his players.

Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta was involved in a minor altercation with the ball boy after growing frustrated at the time taken to return the ball in the second half at Selhurst Park.

At the time, Chelsea was trailing thanks to John Terry's 52nd-minute own goal and the incident reflected the growing frustration as Mourinho's side struggled to work its way back into the game.

"I went there to stop Azpilicueta because he is an emotional guy, one of the guys who was not losing his spirit," Mourinho said.

"I was afraid Azpi might push the kid or do something, so I went there."

The incident revived memories of Eden Hazard's clash with a ball boy at Swansea last season that earned the Chelsea winger a three-game ban, although this incident is unlikely to attract any punishment.

Mourinho, though, believes the ball boys had been told to delay returning the ball in a bid to slow down the game.

"The kids are educated to do this, but if a player hits a ball boy, the person who educates them disappears," Mourinho said.

"The player stays in trouble for pushing or punching or kicking the kid. The way Azpi was going, because the kids were doing that all the time ... I went to stop him and I had the chance to speak with the kid, who was cute.

"He came to me and I told him if he does this, one day somebody will punch him. I told him what happened with Eden last year.

"But the kids, it is not their fault."

Mourinho's angst at the ball boy's delaying tactics was prompted by the realization his team had blown a chance to consolidate its position atop the standings.

He said the loss means his side will now not win the Premier League and questioned the mentality of some of his players.

"We lacked mentality. And a little bit of quality. Mentality because the opponents beat us clearly on that," said Mourinho, whose side will surrender top spot if Liverpool beats Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

"They were strong, aggressive, committed. Every one of them played, I think, at the top of their potential and that, in football, is important.

"And, after that, I think also we missed some qualities. I know we could have scored before them in the first half and we had chances to equalize, but even so I think it is fair to say they deserved it.

"Clearly we have some players because of their profile who find it difficult to perform in some profile of matches.

"You have Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill and Azpilicueta perform in the sun, in the rain, small pitches, big pitches, aggressive teams, non-aggressive teams, possession teams, and they perform every game from day one to the last day.

"And you have other players who are fantastic in some matches and disappear in other matches. You can find easily in these matches something in common. You can find it clearly."

Mourinho's side must recover quickly ahead of a trip to face Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday, although he denied the looming fixture had been a distraction to his squad.

"I don't think it affected them because, if they do have their mind in Paris, they risk not playing in Paris.

"After that it makes no sense," he said.

(China Daily 03/31/2014 page24)