The Portuguese put out a strong starting XI with Champions League winner Didier Drogba spearheading the attack, supplemented by Oscar and Loic Remy and supported by midfielders Ramires and Mikel. Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta were joined in defence by £12m centre-back Kurt Zouma and the home side’s goal was kept by Petr Cech.
And, after 38 minutes, the Premier League leaders were cruising into the fifth-round, at the expense of a club ranked 49 places below them, following goals from Cahill and Ramires. But an incredible comeback from the visitors was completed with goals from Jon Stead, Felipe Morais, Andy Halliday and substitute Mark Yeates.
The first home defeat of the season for Chelsea ended any quietly-kept hopes they had of completing the quadruple this season and left Mourinho with big decisions to make ahead of the visit from Brendan Rodgers’ side in the much-maligned domestic trophy that suddenly looks a lot more valuable.
“Now it is the priority,” Mourinho said. “The FA Cup was priority but the fact we didn’t play with our best team and our best players doesn’t mean we didn’t care about the competition.
“The selection was good, the players obviously should win the game. My selections always have a relation with performance, performance in training and in matches. I try always to look at it and be fair. So yes, I have to analyse the game well and see which players deserve to play more.”
Mourinho was furious with his side after their capitulation – which was caused through a blend of miss-placed confidence and a lack of conviction throughout. Drogba, still a powerhouse at 36, exaggerated the impact of every challenge made upon him and sulked his way through 97 minutes as the Bantams refused to be bullied. Words like disgrace, ashamed and unacceptable flowed from the mouth of the former translator as he attempted to chastise his vanquished B-team while carousing the club ahead of their now must-win match against their Premier League rivals.
But Bradford manager Phil Parkinson took no offence from his opponents words due to his actions behinds the scenes. “All I can say is Jose came into the dressing room at the end and shook the hands of every player and member of staff,” Parkinson revealed. “That’s a real touch of class because it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve made and what your profile is, it still hurts you when you get beat as a manager. All the lads appreciated that he took the time to congratulate them. That’s the mark of the man.”
The mark of the manager will now be picking his side up from the doldrums and making sure his best XI is ready for the challenge tomorrow night in what could be, if results don’t drastically improve, a devastating week for the west London club.
“I don’t think it makes the Liverpool match bigger,” Mourinho said. “It’s a semi-final. It was a semi-final before (the Bradford defeat) and it is a semi-final after, that doesn’t change. But for a person like myself and a club like Chelsea — that always respects the cups and understand and meaning of the cups — if we are out of one then obviously it would be nice to reach the final and we are one victory away from it. It’s a semi-final second-leg, live or die, against a very good team. Maybe the fact we play against a good team will lift us to different level of motivation and concentration that (against Bradford) we couldn’t reach.”
CHELSEA: Cech 6; Christensen 6, Zouma 5, Cahill 4, Azpilicueta 5; Ramires 6, Mikel 6 (Fabregas 5); Remy 4 (Hazard, 76, 5), Oscar 6, Salah 6 (Willian, 4, 70); Drogba 4.
Subs not used: Courtois, Ake, Terry, Loftus-Cheek .
BRADFORD CITY: Williams 8, Darby 7, McArdle 8, Davies 8, Meredith 7, Liddle 7, Morais 8 (Clarke 5, 89), Halliday 8 (Routis 86, 6), Knott 8 (Yeates 8, 80), Hanson 7, Stead 9.
Subs not used: Urwin, Sheehan, Zoko, Kennedy.
Referee: Andre Marriner 6