Mourinho puzzled by Pellegrini flak
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho struggles to comprehend the scrutiny heaped on Manchester City and their manager Manuel Pellegrini after the collapse of their Premier League title defence.
The Blues are seven points clear of second-placed Arsenal and 12 points clear of holders City, who are fourth, entering this weekend's fixtures.
Mourinho is unable to fathom media talk of an implosion by Manuel Pellegrini's men in a competitive top flight.
The Chelsea boss says the media wants numerous teams to fight for the title, but then pounce on perceived failure.
"I'm not surprised because it can happen to anyone," said Mourinho, when asked about City's run of four wins in 12 league games.
"Every game is difficult. What I'm surprised about is that a team that won two titles in three years, a team that are still champions and won two trophies last season, you (the media) can bring this team to hell.
"It looks like they don't deserve respect, that they are bad players, that the manager is a bad manager, that they are a disaster. And they are the champions. I don't understand.
"So how can you be so negative with a team that's won two titles in three years? Okay, they won't win this title this year, but they did last year.
"Some clubs and managers can not win and life goes on, but the guys at Man City - it looks like they're criminals because they don't win the league."
Some reports suggest Pellegrini's job is under threat, with Borussia Dortmund's outgoing coach Jurgen Klopp among those linked.
Mourinho said: "I feel it's amazing. It doesn't matter the problems. You are the champions and people are already pushing you. It's a big contradiction.
"If there are two people pushing for the title, you are the man if you win it and you lose? You want five, six, seven teams to fight for the title, only one can win the title."
When it was pointed out that clubs sack managers, not the media, Mourinho said: "With the pressure you do - you give a big help."
Chelsea's handsome advantage at the summit suggests a dominant performance this term, but Mourinho was adamant it has not been a straightforward campaign and the title must still be claimed.
"(The league is) more difficult than ever," he said.
"For me, the difficulty of every game is amazing. In the last nine matches, we never won by two goals difference. The last time we won by more than one goal was Swansea in January (winning 5-0).
"I don't forget that we were always top of the league but we went to eight points difference, and then down to zero.
"And then, because we scored a late goal against Tottenham (in defeat), we kept the leadership by one goal, level points from Man City."
There are still hurdles - or lengths of a swimming pool - to overcome, not least successive matches with third-placed United and second-placed Arsenal.
Mourinho referred to a story from nine years ago, when then United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said Chelsea needed a collapse of horse racing's Devon Loch proportions to lose the title.
The Portuguese spoke of a chase from a boat to the shore, which he called 'Dying on the beach'.
On Friday he said: "(We need) 11 points. So if you do one point, 10 metres to swim, we have 110metres to swim.
"If it's breaststroke it's easy. You do it. But if it's butterfly, after 25m I die."
Chelsea can make it easier for themselves by beating United.
"I just want to be champions," Mourinho added. "One point is enough for me."
Arsenal focus on their FA Cup defence this weekend, kicking-off their semi-final with Reading at Wembley just 10 minutes before the Chelsea-United tie.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has questioned the "conflicting" scheduling and feels more consideration should have been made to keep the two high-profile games separate.
Mourinho agrees with his long-time adversary, suggesting he could have gone to Wembley if it was an evening kick-off.
The Chelsea boss said: "A day has 24 hours. You don't have to play at the same time.
"Wembley is a fantastic stadium in which to play an evening match. If it was an evening game it would be magnificent.
"But in this country I had to learn how to live with sometimes crazy decisions about fixtures.
"Play 7.45pm or 8pm, Champions League time or European national team time, and it would be an amazing evening at Wembley, and I could probably go."