Belfast Telegraph

Mourinho ignores Pellegrini taunt

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho declined the opportunity to respond to Manuel Pellegrini's "small team" taunt, but suggested the Manchester City manager should commit to his own vow of silence when it comes to discussing rivals.

Pellegrini was critical of Chelsea's style of play in last Sunday's Premier League draw at the Etihad Stadium, likening it to Stoke.

Mourinho said: "I don't have a reaction. I think you (the media) should, not me.

"It was not once or two or three times that he said he doesn't speak about referees. He killed Mark Clattenburg (after City's draw at Arsenal).

"It was not one, two, three, four times, he said he doesn't speak about me or my team's opponent.

"He did it once more. I think it's for you to comment. When I said I don't want to speak about him. That's what I try to do.

"If you want the story you have to speak with him not with me. I keep in my place. I follow my line."

Mourinho, sticking to his line, refused to speak about the prospect of Chelsea's record goalscorer Frank Lampard returning to Stamford Bridge on January 31 if his Manchester City loan from New York City FC is extended.

Mourinho said: "I don't speak about players from other clubs. That's not my problem.

"We have lots of former players. I don't want to speak about Frank, (Samuel) Eto'o, (Romelu) Lukaku, Ashley Cole.

"If Ashley Cole wins the group or finishes second in the Champions League group (with Roma) and if we do the same can Ashley Cole be back to Stamford Bridge to play against Chelsea?

"I don't have to speak about players from other clubs."

He also refused to comment on his relationship with Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, who will be in the opposite dugout at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The Blues boss would not discuss Roy Keane's impact as Villa assistant boss or the struggles of Louis van Gaal's Manchester United.

Diego Costa, scorer of seven Premier League goals this term, will start for Chelsea against Villa despite his hamstring travails.

Mourinho has revealed Costa can play only one game a week at present, but the Chelsea manager insists he is powerless to stop Spain calling up the striker for next month's international break.

"He plays and he starts the game without problems," Mourinho said.

"The question is always the same: can he finish the game and be in conditions to play in Lisbon 48 hours later? It's a question that in this moment I don't know.

"In this moment I don't think about Sporting or the Champions League, I think about Aston Villa in the Premier League. He starts the game."

Ramires remains out with his abductor groin injury and Mourinho hopes the Brazil midfielder can have an extended rest to recover.

"It's a muscular injury. It's not to play Tuesday or even to play against Arsenal (on October 5).

"He needs the international two weeks break. He needs that time. Maybe he can be back after that."

Villa boss Lambert is already preparing his January shopping list after holding talks with the club's hierarchy.

The Villa Park chief has spoken to new chief executive Tom Fox about his transfer plans for the New Year.

Lambert will be backed in the transfer market by chairman Randy Lerner.

The American watched Villa lose 3-0 to Arsenal last week, his first home game for almost two years, and will continue to support Lambert with funds.

"I've spoken to Tom Fox about January and whether we need to do something. It depends on personnel and injuries and ultimately the decision will come from the chairman," Lambert told reporters.

"He's never once said: 'you can't do x, y and z'. You put it to him and if he thinks it's too dear he says no. If he thinks it's fine then fine.

"If the chairman thinks it's right he tells me I can if not he tells me no. That's how it should be.

"Randy's been great, really supportive.

"He came last week and I'm pretty sure he will get over to more games.

"I don't get any indication he will take the club off the market. I still think if someone comes in and makes an offer to make Aston Villa stronger and it is right for the chairman it will happen."

Villa go to Chelsea on Saturday after suffering their first Premier League defeat of the season to the Gunners.

Jack Grealish played 45 minutes of the game and the club are in contract talks with their midfield starlet.

Villa have high hopes for the 19-year-old academy graduate and are speaking to Grealish, along with Fabian Delph and Ron Vlaar, about a new deal.

Lambert said: "Jack is developing. He's nowhere near the finished article. He's at the best place because he can get near the first team.

"He's playing little bits here and there but he's still far from being an established player. Hopefully something will be done.

"You have to put your best foot forward but we're talking. Delph and Vlaar are different to Jack as they are seasoned professionals and we will see what happens."

Vlaar is likely to miss the trip to Stamford Bridge with a calf injury but Delph has recovered from the illness which affected the Villa squad last week. Nathan Baker, Darren Bent, Ashley Westwood and Andi Weimann are all available after sickness.

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