Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho blasts referee for Cesc Fabregas' "harsh" red card
Manager Jose Mourinho took a sly dig at Chelsea's title rivals for allowing them to switch off at the end of the season.
The champions slipped to a deserved 3-0 defeat at West Brom on Monday and had Cesc Fabregas sent off in comical fashion.
It ended a 16-game unbeaten run in the league and meant the Blues have earned just one point from two games since winning the Barclays Premier League.
But Mourinho believes Chelsea, who are eight points clear with one game left, were given the chance to take their foot off the pedal.
"The ideal scenario is to be champions and don't play again, go home, have holidays and don't play again," he said, after just Chelsea's third league defeat of the campaign.
"I don't blame the players, to blame the players I have to blame myself because I am not different than them.
"Let's blame the players a little bit, let's blame myself, let's blame the top contenders for the title because they were not good enough to fight with us until the end.
"If, today, we need this game to be champions, I'm not saying we'll win but I'm saying we would compete at a higher level to win."
But Mourinho questioned Fabregas' dismissal after the midfielder was sent off in the first half in bizarre style.
Referee Mike Jones was taking control of a spat between Diego Costa and Gareth McAuley when Fabregas kicked the ball back towards the group - hitting West Brom's Chris Brunt on the head.
The ex-Barcelona star was dismissed, while a brace from Saido Berahino and Brunt's strike sealed victory for Albion.
Mourinho said: "Where is the danger of the situation, where is the aggression in the situation to get the red card in a friendly game?
"I really don't understand. I think (Darren) Fletcher was aggressive, he pushed him (Fabregas) in the chest because he is experienced and knows where he can push for a yellow card. He is much more aggressive than what Fabregas did.
"For me a top referee, a stable, big personality and in control of the game, goes there, two or three words and it's done. It's a bizarre red card.
"A three-game ban for this? Harsh? Of course it's harsh. Why does he have to explain? He doesn't need to explain."
The Baggies clinched a deserved win though and their most impressive under Tony Pulis.
The boss took over in January when they were a point above the bottom three and Albion are now 10 points clear ahead of Sunday's finale at Arsenal.
He said: "I'm really pleased, it was a great result, great performance, On the night we are very, very pleased. It's a great finish but I don't think anything should be taken away from the team we've played.
"They have been by far the best team in England, they won it by a country mile and have been that better than everyone else.
"Although we won on the night, all the praise should go to Jose, his coaching staff and the players."
Belfast Telegraph Digital