Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho on Friday refused to respond to Andre Villas-Boas’ criticism of the Football Association for failing to extend Fernando Torres’ suspension. Press Association Torres will serve his suspension before the international break when Chelsea play at Norwich on Sunday, but the October 19 match with Cardiff and the October 22 Champions League Group E encounter with Schalke could come too soon. He should be fit for the match with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on October 27, when there could be a further twist in the title race. Mourinho has predicted since before the season’s start that the fight for the Premier League title will be open and he believes a clearer assessment is only possible once everyone has played each other once. “The league will be open till the end,” Mourinho added. “In this moment some teams are being helped by the fixtures, because some fixtures are more difficult than others. “By the end of November, beginning of December, basically everybody will have played against everybody and by that moment we will find if somebody is in a better situation than others.” Mourinho’s assessment of his own side suggests there is plenty of work to be done. “We are not strong enough to be dominant every match, to win consecutively without any lost points,” Mourinho said. But he has seen signs of progress, including in Romania in the 4-0 defeat of Steaua Bucharest. He wants to develop consistency of results and performances by changing his team’s approach to become “active and not reactive”. “It’s more difficult to change mentality than change tactics,” Mourinho said. The Portuguese has demanded more of his players at times this term, including Juan Mata. He has told Kevin de Bruyne, whose performances in games and training have not been met with the manager’s approval, to follow Mata’s example as the forward competes for a position in which Chelsea have a wealth of options. “Juan was in a difficult situation and he managed to understand what we need from him and he played consecutively three good games, Swindon, Tottenham and Steaua,” Mourinho said. “The kid Kevin, he has to work. He has to come in my direction. I will go in his direction too. “He’s a very good player, his time will come.” Mourinho dismissed the prospect of De Bruyne, who has been a Chelsea player since January 2012 but spent the time on loan at Genk and Werder Bremen, leaving temporarily in January. Romelu Lukaku is on loan at Everton, a decision Mourinho does not regret despite the injury to Torres. “One thing is to play for Everton, another thing is to play for Chelsea,” Mourinho said. Another Belgian in the Chelsea ranks is Eden Hazard, who is doubtful for the Carrow Road trip with an ankle injury, but will not be prevented from joining up with his national team if he is fit. The absence of Torres means Samuel Eto’o should get his chance for a first Chelsea goal after an underwhelming start to his career in blue. Mourinho said: “He needs a little bit of time to find that sharpness.” Spain striker Torres was sent off in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Villas-Boas’ Tottenham, but avoided further sanction for his altercation with Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen. Villas-Boas branded the FA’s lack of further punishment for Torres’ scratch on Vertonghen “a disgrace” and may have felt the striker’s knee injury, which has seen him ruled out for three weeks, was karma. Mourinho declined the opportunity to respond to his compatriot, merely reiterating his belief that the FA has protected the values of English football. “I don’t comment on others’ opinions,” Mourinho said. “My opinion is simple. For some reason English football is English football. For some reason the Premier League is the most important championship and the most loved worldwide. “One of the reasons is because people enjoy aggression, people enjoy emotion, people enjoy sometimes a loss of a little bit of control. “People don’t enjoy simulation. The (one) game (ban) for Fernando was more than enough, because the second yellow card came from simulation. “I think the FA defend what is the principles and the values of English football.” Mourinho could not resist criticising Belgium defender Vertonghen when discussing Chelsea’s recent run, though. The Blues boss added: “Against Tottenham, we did a fantastic second half. We didn’t win because Vertonghen did fantastic.”
In transfer news last night, three Irish internationals were involved in deadline day moves.Jeff Hendrick has joined Burnley from Derby County for a club record fee of 10.5 million pounds.Meanwhile, Aiden McGeady joined Preston North End on a season-long loan, and Eunan O’Kane joined Leeds United from Bournemouth for an undisclosed fee. Ireland’s record goal-scorer and most-capped player marked his final appearance in green with a 68th – and final international goal, during last night’s 4-0 win over Oman.Keane says he couldn’t have hoped for a better farewell.
The battle for Premier League supremacy and survival intensifies as the competition enters its nervy moments on Wednesday.There are some 18 points left to play for as leaders Asante Kotoko endeavour to maintain their title bid in an away fixture with Heart of Lions looking to pile on the pressure and Hearts of Oak banging on from three place for a Champions League slot.Table-topping Kotoko will attempt to build up the points ahead of the chasing pack when they travel to Sekondi for the clash with top-four hopefuls Hasaacas in midweek.An impressive run recently has seen Lions jump to second position as they challenge the top, albeit with a 10-gap separating them from summit.But with a home game against bottom side, Aduana Stars, Lions will be eager not to avoid any slip ups.Just behind Lions in third place is Hearts of Oak who are also contenders for the top and a return to continental club competition. The Phobians face a tricky test at the Golden City Park where they take on Berekum Chelsea. Mohammed Polo’s side know what is required to come out on top and will be aware that they cannot afford to drop any more points. The battle for survival continues at the Tema Stadium for both Inter Allies and Wa All Stars. For Inter Allies, another victory will take them out of the relegation bracket whilst the Blues are aware that their place in next season’s campaign is not secured yet.Despite sitting in mid-table, New Edubiase and Bechem United are just five points above the relegation bracket and either side will need all three points to push up the log in their battle at the Bechem Park.At the Baba Stadium, it will be a clash of equals as King Faisal, who are just two above the drop zone will host Amidaus Professionals, who are also two points clear of relegation.Second from bottom, Ebusua Dwarfs after an impressive first round are suddenly looking up the table from the relegation zone as the season reaches the final stages. The ‘Mysterious Dwarfs’ will battle Liberty Professionals who are just three points clear of the drop at the Carl Reindorf Park as they chase survival.