When it became apparent Costa would not be used in the goalless draw at White Hart Lane he appeared to fling his pink substitutes’ bib in the direction of Mourinho, narrowly missing. “People have made a party about this,” Costa told IBTimes UK. “If I want to throw the bib at him it would have been impossible to fail because I was very close. But anyway the attitude was not good. It was disrespectful not only to him but to my team-mates. “But as the dressing room loves me nothing happens.” Mourinho was subject of the first managerial vote of confidence in Roman Abramovich’s 12-year ownership on October 5, but fortunes have barely improved since. Chelsea could be in the Premier League’s relegation zone by the time of their next game with Leicester on Monday. The Champions League draw takes place on the same day, with Mourinho believing all their possible opponents – Paris St Germain, PSV Eindhoven, Benfica, Juventus, Roma or Gent – want to play them. Whether he will still be in charge when the competition resumes in February will depend on an improvement in domestic affairs, but Costa believes Mourinho is not at fault for their miserable season so far. Press Association “Despite things not going well he is not to blame,” Costa added. “One thing is when one thing doesn’t work, but when four or five players are not playing (well) it is more difficult. The manager has been fighting and encouraging us to turn this around. “We know that the manager is going to stay here until end of season. Fans like him so much, the board respect him and the players know that he is very important for us.” Costa is one of the players who has underperformed, scoring just seven times for Chelsea since January and four times this season. He has one Champions League goal for the Blues since his summer 2014 arrival. Mourinho said Costa returned for pre-season training overweight and suggested every game without a goal was adding a further burden of 5kg to his misfiring striker. Unsubstantiated reports suggested the pair’s relationship was strained, while Costa was one of three players pictured on a night out prior to the loss to Bournemouth, which was actually the full squad’s Christmas celebration and approved by the manager. Mourinho also said the Brazil-born Spain striker’s lack of confidence was clear against Porto, where Costa forced a lucky break in an opening goal after which the visitors could not respond. And Costa says he accepted being dropped without explanation. “I don’t need someone to tell me that I’m not having a great season,” added Costa, whose most recent goal was on November 21 in the win over Norwich. “He spoke with me but he doesn’t need to explain anything. I know it and it is normal that the manager tries to find different alternatives to win games. “We have a very good relationship and everything has gone well.” Costa was prolific in his first months at Chelsea following his £32million move from Atletico Madrid. But his form has led to suggestions Chelsea are in the market for a new striker, while he has often been linked with a return to Spain. “It seems the English media want me to leave England as soon as possible. Because it’s not normal what they say,” Costa added. “The truth is that I’m happy here. The only thing which I’m not happy about is the situation of the team. “But if I were happy with that it would be very ungrateful. I have to improve and the team has to improve.” Diego Costa believes he avoided punishment for his bib-throwing display of petulance because “the dressing room loves me”. The striker again backed Jose Mourinho to continue as manager after returning to the starting line-up, after a two-game absence, as Chelsea beat Porto 2-0 to advance to the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday night as Group G winners. The Blues want to translate the vastly improved showing into the Premier League and Costa is keen to play his part after being dropped by Mourinho, with Eden Hazard deployed as a ‘false nine’ against Tottenham and Bournemouth.
As the Michigan State men’s tennis team celebrated its first Big Ten victory of the season, the Badgers dropped their second consecutive contest at the Nielsen Tennis Center in a grueling 6-1 defeat.Sunday’s match began with a promising start as Wisconsin (8-7, 0-3) earned the doubles point against Michigan State (11-8, 1-3) for the 12th time in 15 matches this season but couldn’t earn another mark on the scoreboard.At the No. 3 position, sophomore tandem Rod Carey and Alex Robles finished first en route to an 8-6 win to give Wisconsin an early lead in doubles play.Coming off a win over the No. 15 doubles duo in the land, the top Badger team of junior captain Billy Bertha and sophomore Fredrik Ask lost just their fourth decision of the year as they fell to Drew Lied and Aaron Pfister of Michigan State 8-6. Junior Alexander Kostanov and sophomore Petr Satral clinched the first point of the match in their 8-6 win.The stunning failure of Wisconsin’s singles matches was the story of the match. Six efforts resulted in six losses, despite four Badgers taking their opponents to third sets. Two of Wisconsin’s losses on Sunday ended in a third set tiebreak losses by Ask and Satral.Assistant coach Joe Bates said the struggles in singles cannot be answered with a single reason.“I think it’s just about confidence,” Bates said. “Just moving forward I don’t think there’s a magic answer to gaining confidence or gaining match experience, but I think even these close losses help.”Carey’s performance looked promising as he found himself up a break early in his first set in the No. 2 position, but he seemed to lose his poise as he was crushed in his second set without winning a single game.Freshman Andy Quirk also dropped his match in straight sets but displayed impressive competitiveness on the brink of defeat, as he won three straight games to tie the second set at five before losing his first match of the season. The freshman was also the only player to win a singles match on Friday against the No. 25 Michigan Wolverines.The freshman explained the team has attempted to gain confidence by becoming more encouraging during matches.“I think we’ve just got to go out there and just play with a lot of energy, try and get ahead early,” Quirk said. “I think sometimes we get up and then we lose focus. I think we’ve just got to keep focusing and just play with a lot of confidence and belief.”The last four matches were decided by third sets, including the two tiebreak defeats of Ask and Satral. Three of the four Badgers were able to fight back into their respective matches after severely losing their first sets. Satral explained that one singles victory will allow him to regain his confidence after Sunday’s defeat.“I just need to win one good match in [a] tiebreak, and I think I will win [the] next one and next one,” Satral said. “So I just need to get [one] good match, then I will be back.”A strategic move by the coaching staff was to relieve Kostanov of his singles duties on Sunday, believing that his absence would create more favorable matchups for the players moving up in the lineup. Kostanov hadn’t sat out of the singles lineup since Jan. 28 in a home win against Western Illinois.The junior’s vacancy effectively forced the rest of the singles players to participate in more difficult matches. Bates knew the decision was a risk.“It was kind of a gamble, and I suppose it didn’t pay off,” Bates said. “We got the right matchups, we thought.”After the winless weekend, Wisconsin’s relentless schedule does not ease up. The Badgers’ next slate of matches includes road tests at No. 15 Illinois and No. 53 Northwestern. Wisconsin has yet to earn their first victory against a ranked opponent and six of the last eight squads Wisconsin will challenge are nationally positioned in the top 75.Bates stressed that the team needs to be prepared to win points in tight situations.“They won the big points,” Bates said. “That’s how it goes, one or two points decides the match … they closed the matches out.”