By Clare Lovell
LONDON (Reuters) – With as much bravado as he could muster, a grim-faced Jose Mourinho said he would not walk out of Chelsea despite his champions suffering their fourth defeat in eight Premier League matches and languishing 16th in the table.
After losing 3-1 to Southampton at Stamford Bridge, he declared he was still the best man for the job echoing the “Special One” arrogance with which he arrived at Chelsea for his first spell as manager 11 years ago.
But the confidence sounded hollow as he described how many of his expensively assembled multi-national team were simply playing badly and he would have to turn to youngsters in the hope of saving the season.
“No way I will resign. No way. Why? Because Chelsea cannot have a better manager than me,” he told reporters after the defeat.
“There are managers in the world that belong to my level but not better. So no chance I run away.
“First, because I have my professional pride and I know I am very good at my job.
“Secondly because I love this club very much. I want the best for my club and the best for my club is for me to stay.”
It was Mourinho’s heaviest home defeat in the Premier League — and only the third of his league career in England.
The Portuguese is not used to hearing his side booed off the pitch, just as he is not used to watching a team he coaches playing feverish, panicked and error-strewn football.
On Saturday Chelsea played like a team at the wrong end of the table, two places above the drop zone and 10 points adrift of the leaders.
But Mourinho said he would stay until owner Roman Abramovich and the board asked him to leave and they had given him no sign they were about to do that.
When the club had asked him to return to the club two years ago they had told him they wanted stability rather than their recent history of serial changes of manager, he said.
Just as the team had been united in celebration of the title three months ago so “it is time for us all to be together now at the bottom of the league.”
His perhaps desperate message to the club’s hierarchy was that they should not panic yet.
Although he said retaining the title now would be very difficult from their lowly position, he was confident of reaching the top four and securing a Champions League place.
That is a minimum requirement for a club used to playing in Europe’s elite and with a wage bill to match.
“December, January, February we are in the top four,” he said. “I don’t say it’s easy but it’s completely do-able.”
A sign of his desperation with his underperforming squad was Mourinho’s substitution of halftime substitute Nemanja Matic after 28 minutes on the pitch.
“I live a situation that is not easy. I like (my players) I trust them but some of them are in a difficult moment and Matic is one of them.
“He’s not sharp, he’s not making best decisions,” the Portuguese said, adding he would be throwing some young players such as Reuben Loftus-Cheek into the mix in the hope of improvement.
“The situation is so negative so maybe the younger players will not feel the pressure so much,” he said.
And he told Sky Sports: “My team in this moment .. The first negative thing that happens, the team collapses, the team mentally and psychologically is unbelievably down.
“Its like good players are bad players.”
(Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Alan Baldwin)