Thomas, let’s start with the obvious, the handshake and the bust-up?
“I just compared it to two players who had a bit of fight on the field and nothing happens. Nobody gets injured and the players, if you have a hard tackle or fair tackle, if you don’t go and apologise, there’s no need. It’s Premier League football and the two managers got involved today because both of us were fighting for our teams. That was it, nobody got insulted, nobody got hurt, we didn’t have a fist fight or something. For me, it’s not a big deal. It was part of it today and it boiled of course and it featured us. Both nothing bad. Today it was part of the ban.”
Have you had a chance to speak with Antonio since?
“Not yet. I don’t have any bad feeling and I’m sure he will not have. We fought for our teams and it happens. It’s so close here and it was such an intense match…both dugouts are very close so it got a bit heated from both of us.”
You enjoyed it really, didn’t you?
“Yes and I think he enjoyed it as well. It was nothing bad.”
Do you have more of a problem with the referee, Thomas?
Some of the fans think he’s made a few bad decisions against Chelsea…
“I don’t think just some of the fans think that. I can assure you the whole dressing room of us, every single person, thinks that. I can’t understand how the first goal is not offside and I can’t understand when a player is pulled by their hair, the other player stays on the pitch. Pull someone else’s hair, stay on the pitch and attack the last corner. This is for me without any explanation and I don’t want to accept it. Both goals should not stand and it’s a fair result because we were brilliant, deserved to win. This is my point of view.”
Is part of the frustration and emotion that you’ve lost two points that you deserved?
“Yes, but it happens. It happens during the life a football coach and a team. In football, and as players, you sometimes get caught in the last minute and we will hopefully have it in the season that we will steal some points and be decisive. This can happen. But it can’t happen when we have VAR at this kind of level. It can’t happen that goals are allowed that are simply irregular goals. This is the frustration and it’s unacceptable. I think we know what we did, the players know the input they put into the game mentally and physically. We were so sharp, fully on, and played a brilliant match. What a step up for us from the first game against Everton. I’m disappointed for the players that they don’t get the reward. It’s actually down to incredible decisions.”
There have been issues with this referee that fans think have gone on for quite a while…
“Not only the fans. You know the players, they know what’s going on when they are on the pitch. They know it.”
Are they worried when it’s this referee?
“Yeah, of course.”
N’Golo Kante seemed to hobble off with muscle injury, is that correct and is there any indication of how serious it is?
“It seems another muscle injury, the hamstring. He said he feels it pretty strong. So no good news. “
You and the players feel there is an issue [with Anthony Taylor] and the fans feel he shouldn’t referee Chelsea games…
“Maybe it would be better. Maybe it would be better. But honestly, we also have VAR to help make the right decision. Since when can players be pulled by hair? Since when is that [not a foul]? If he does not see it, I do not blame him. I didn’t see it. But we have people at VAR who check this. Then you see it and how can this not be a free-kick and a red card? This doesn’t even had to do with the referee in this case. If he does not see something, that’s why we have people to check if there is a decisive error going on.”
The referees have been given the direction to let the games flow more and not give every foul, is this the new reality that some fouls won’t be given?
“Some fouls won’t be given? We still have rules and I’m surprised when there is a 50/50 challenge with Harry Kane in the build-up to the last goal and it’s worth whistling because none of the players expected a free-kick because it wasn’t a free-kick. But suddenly it is. When Reece James did a tactical foul it was a yellow card, how many tactical fouls did (Pierre-Emile) Hojbjerg do today? He hit Reece James in his neck in front of both benches and the fourth official told me they’d go back to it because it was advantage. Did he go back to it? No he did not. Bentancur did three, four, five, six tactical fouls [and didn’t get a yellow card]. It’s a clear foul on Kai Havertz who goes towards goal. It stands and goes and it’s the build to the 1-1. Huge, huge misinterpretation of situations. I’m happy to let the game go, but let it go in every direction please and not like this. This is, yeah, it’s what it is today and it will not go away. I don’t even know if I will get punished for my sentences now. So it’s the same.”
I think so – and you might not be able to go to Leeds…
“So…good. I cannot coach but the referee can whistle the next game.”
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