Jose Mourinho has played down Diego Costa’s actions after the out-of-form striker threw a training bib in the manager’s direction during Chelsea’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham on Sunday.
The striker was seen arguing with the Portuguese during the 4-0 Champions League win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Tuesday, a row Mourinho claimed was settled with “a few kisses and cuddles” at half-time.
However, Costa was omitted from the starting line-up for the trip to White Hart Lane and, having not participated fully in the warm-up, later threw his bib toward the manager when Ruben Loftus-Cheek was brought on as the final substitute in second-half stoppage time.
“Diego is privileged because he was the last player to be on the bench. Everybody was on the bench so Diego is privileged I kept him in the team so long,” Mourinho said, referring to the first-team stars who have spent time on the sidelines during what has been an unexpected season of struggle so far for the reigning champions.
“Today we thought the best strategy to play was this one. I’m happy with the players.
“Physically he is fine, he is working well every day, his mood is positive. I was not expecting to have a player on the bench jumping and singing.
“I was tempted to go the 90 minutes with the same players.
“When I asked him to warm-up he did. Eden [Hazard] was kicked, he had some falls, but he was so dangerous I didn’t want to change the team.
“At 0-0 I still thought we could score a goal so why change if I felt we could not improve?
“A top player on the bench is not happy, so for me his behaviour was normal.
“If he wants to hurt me, it’s not with a bib. I have a good relationship with him, no problems.
“I think the message to all my players – not just Diego – is that when we play as a team, we are much better.
“It was just a decision, nothing else.”