Belfast Telegraph

Mourinho leaps to Costa defence

Nobody in the Barclays Premier League has picked up more yellow cards this season than Diego Costa - a record Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes is unjust and based only on reputation.

The bustling forward arrived at Stamford Bridge to much fanfare in the summer, joining from Atletico Madrid in a deal worth £32million.

It is a price tag Costa has justified with 12 goals in his first 13 appearances in the English top flight, where he has also made an impression on referees.

The Spain international has a league-high seven bookings along with Arsenal's Calum Chambers and Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole, although his ratio of yellow cards makes him the biggest offender.

The latest came for a dive in Saturday's 2-0 win against Hull - a decision replays showed to be wrong and underlines to Mourinho the rough justice his frontman is getting.

"I can't believe it," the Chelsea boss said. "I can't believe it. I remember two that are understandable and fair.

"One was against Newcastle because he complained with the referee with arms in the air in body language that was not accepted normally by the referees and [Martin] Atkinson gave him the yellow card.

"And the other one in Liverpool, when there was a really aggressive duel with [Martin] Skrtel - you know, fighting in a yellow card way.

"All the others, the first one at Burnley is a penalty and a red card for the keeper and he gets a yellow card.

"Other times, it is not a simulation and they give him a yellow card. Other times he touches one guy and it is a yellow card.

"Everything he does is a yellow card, so he does nothing for a red card, he does nothing, really.

"For me, the normal situation would be now to be on the second, maximum third yellow card. But seven yellow cards - it looks like everybody comes ready for him, which I don't understand."

Mourinho says English referees, on the whole, are good at differentiating between aggression and violence, the kind of information he has relayed to Costa.

The striker has been speaking to the Chelsea boss, his staff and Spanish-speaking team-mates, like Cesc Fabregas and Cesar Azpilicueta, about how to behave.

Mourinho believes Costa has done "very, very well" since day one and can surmise the punishment is down to reputation.

"I think when he was (at) Atletico he created a certain image and people don't believe that he can change," he said.

"People don't believe the way we teach him what England is - the mentality, what people accept, what people don't accept, what is a red card.

"People don't understand that he is intelligent enough to understand it and to change - because he changed."

Mourinho's gripe about bookings does, though, looks small fry compared to Hull's problems.

The defeat at Stamford Bridge means they have gone nine matches without a win, while an early hamstring injury to Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone's red card further limits their options.

"If the fans keep seeing the team perform like that - I'm convinced they will - then I think that we will be okay," manager Steve Bruce said.

"We need a little bit of luck to go our way and we need to stop picking up injuries like we are doing.

"[Mohamed] Diame's gone into a brace for a month, Huddlestone could miss four games, Dawson looks as though it will be at least a month.

"We need things to change for us but we'll keep battling away and I think we'll be okay."

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