Jose Mourinho admitted Chelsea’s performance in the first half of Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Newcastle was “so poor” as the Premier League champions lost further ground in the title race.
Title holders Chelsea rallied with two late goals to salvage a point at St James’ Park, with the Magpies taking a a shock 2-0 lead by the hour mark.
Ayoze Perez buried a shot on the half-volley shortly before half-time, and Georginio Wijnaldum later doubled the advantage from a header following a corner kick.
Ramires started the comeback for Chelsea with a thunderous strike from 20 yards in the 79th minute, and Willian tied it from a curling free kick three minutes from time.
Despite fighting back to earn a draw against Steve McClaren’s side, Mourinho said he was shocked by the performance of his side going into his half-time team talk.
“We were so poor, so bad in the first half,” he told BBC Sport. “It is possible to win the game with a good period but when you don’t play for 45 minutes it’s very difficult.
“I told the players at half-time that I have no time to ask them why they were so bad. I want to try to understand because I don’t accept it.”
Despite leaving his first substitution until the 61st minute, Mourinho said that he would have liked to have changed as many as six of his players at the interval.
“I am not a magician,” he added. “I tried my best for the team. At half-time I said I was sorry I only had three subs as I wanted to change six.
“You cannot say that I react negatively, I complain, I am a critic. I laugh about it.”
The result leaves Chelsea eight points behind new leaders Manchester United just seven games into the new season.
Magpies boss McClaren was pleased with the point despite letting a two-goal lead slip away, adding: “A good result and a great performance, that’s what we wanted. It’s been a tough week and there was lots of pressure on the players today.
“That was more like it. We expect and demand a performance like that and they got the crowd behind them.
“You could see a determination in the players. Against the odds we grew into the game. The players showed real courage.
“Aleksandar Mitrovic has been missed and he can be a talisman for us. He is annoyed he hadn’t scored but he can make a real difference for us.”