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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 9, 2006

Mourinho hails 'amazing' Drogba

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho predicted that Didier Drogba's superb performance would silence the critics who were ready to hound him out of English football.

Drogba has been booed by his own fans and labelled a cheat and a diver in recent weeks, but he was given a standing ovation after he inspired 10-man Chelsea to a 4-1 win over West Ham.

With their win, Chelsea took a giant step closer to their second successive Premiership title.

Chelsea trailed to an 11th-minute goal from James Collins and had midfielder Maniche sent off for a lunge on Lionel Scaloni soon afterwards, but goals from Drogba and Hernan Crespo turned the game in their favour by half-time.

Second-half strikes from captain John Terry and defender William Gallas set the seal on a stunning performance by the champions.

'Didier closed a few mouths today, not mine, because I always support him,' said Mourinho.

'I think he was amazing. The team performance was unbelievable, but the way he worked for the team and the effort he put in was unbelievable too.

'The best way for players is to speak on the pitch. I think Drogba should go home, switch on TV and listen to the pundits.

'He should buy every single paper to see if the same people who wanted to kill him, now have the common sense to give him the credit he deserves.'

Mourinho felt his side displayed no fear after their early double blow, and insists he has no preferences as to where and when he wins the title for the second season running.

The former Porto boss also maintains he is not feeling the pressure of Manchester United's late charge.

Chelsea's lead had been whittled down to just seven points prior to the game but Mourinho was not worried by Manchester United's form, nor by West Ham today.

'We had no fear of playing with 10 men and dominated the game. The character of the players was unbelievable,' said Mourinho.

'We are champions and we can be again in a couple of weeks. Even if Manchester United win every game we have the conditions to win it again.

'It doesn't matter when we win it or who against. We just need to win all our matches. What United do can make it easy for us but we don't need them. It is in our hands.

'Manchester United people were watching with a lot of emotion and that is the difference. They can be disappointed when we win matches, but when they win matches we are not disappointed because we don't need them to lose.

'For me there is no pressure but that is a personal thing. When a team is losing 1-0 and have to play with 10 men for 70 minutes against a good team, if you have no conditions to cope with it, you don't react in the same way.

'In this game we played with 10 men but it looked like we had 12. We have a lot of experience of playing with 10 men. It is something we do now and again.

'But at the same time you need character and the players were magnificent

'Players don't like to lose or play badly. But for this match the team was very focused. This performance was fantastic. Losing 1-0 and with a direct red card was a very difficult situation.

'Only a team with great character and very focused on going back to winning, could have done what the players did. It was a fantastic performance.'

Mourinho was surprised to see Maniche, making his first Premiership start for the club, sent off by referee Chris Foy in the 16th minute.

Foy dismissed the Chelsea midfielder for dangerous play after he went over the top of the ball and caught Scaloni on the thigh with a poor challenge.

'I haven't seen it on TV yet but for me a red card, especially in the very early stages of the game, must be a `no doubt' red card,' said Mourinho.

'If you have doubts, the game is about 11 against 11. If you have doubts, it is a yellow card and a few strong words - this can solve the situation.

'A direct red card must be a 101% red card and from the position I was it didn't look like that to me.'