Jose Mourinho has insisted Chelsea were right to let Frank Lampard leave Stamford Bridge, and that the -decision was made to safeguard the club for the next decade.
Chelsea would be well clear at the top of the Premier League table if it was not for the club's record scorer Lampard and his impact at -Man-chester City.
Lampard's latest City goal stopped Chelsea increasing their advantage to five points with victory gainst Hull City and Manuel Pellegrini, the -Premier League champions' manager, admitted for the first time that he wants the midfielder to stay in -England until the end of the season.
City's original agreement with their sister club New York City was that Lampard would stay in Manchester until the end of December, when he would then move out to America.
Having seen him deny Chelsea -victory at Eastlands this season, the London club now face the -unthinkable prospect of Lampard helping City to snatch the title away from them.
However, Mourinho is adamant that his club did not blunder by -letting Lampard go. The manager said: "It's his life, nothing to do with us. He left Chelsea as a free agent and chooses his life, we can't complain about it. That's football. My view is that when you want to look forward, look for the future and have people like Fabregas, Matic and Jeremie Boga, which are the next 10 years of the club, not the next year, that we made the right decision.
"You can argue 'you have John Terry and Didier Drogba'. Different. Didier Drogba is a striker that is -coming to help and support. John Terry is the best central defender in English football and it doesn't matter how old he is. The nucleus of the team that has to be developed, if you have a big player like Frank it would stop the development of the other guys."
Branislav Ivanovic expects City to keep hold of Lampard for the -remainder of the title race and -admitted that it was hard to see his name on the scoresheet for Chelsea's rivals. The right-back said: "Lamps is this kind of player who always scores and always gives everything. He scored in a lot of important games for this club and the history of this club. Now he's just carrying on and we are not so happy when we see that, but this is the reality."
Diego Costa ended a run of four games without a goal by scoring Chelsea's second in the 2-0 victory against Hull, but the striker was also booked by Chris Foy for diving.
Chelsea and Foy have plenty of -history and the referee was given the opportunity to explain his decision to show Costa a yellow card. He walked through the tunnel as Mourinho talked to reporters and a potentially tense exchange ended in laughter from both men. Mourinho was in full showman mood as he light-heartedly shouted: "Mr Foy! Mr Foy! Tell the guys please. Come and tell them. Diego Costa is crying because you gave him a yellow card. He is crying in the dressing room. And these guys are asking me why."
Foy was silent, but paused to reach into his pocket and produced a -handkerchief that he offered to -Mourinho, who erupted into -laughter.
Costa has been booked seven times this season and Mourinho said: "I can't believe it. I can't believe it. Because I only remember two, against Newcastle and Liverpool, that are understandable and fair. For me, the normal situation would be now to be on the second, maximum third,-yellow card. But seven yellow cards - it looks like everybody comes ready for him, which I don't understand.
"When he was at Atletico, I think he created a certain image and people don't believe that he can change. -People don't believe the way we teach him what England is - the mentality, what people accept, what people don't accept, what is a red card. People don't understand that he is intelligent enough to understand it. And to change - because he changed.
"It's not for me to convince -referees, they have to go home and see on the TV their matches which I believe they do and the top people like Mike Riley and Howard Webb, the ones that are at the top, have to see and they have to tell them."
Steve Bruce, the Hull manager, was understandably angry, as he -con-sidered the fact that Foy had ignored his protests for a foul on Sone Aluko in the build-up to Eden Hazard's headed opener and ruled that Gary Cahill had not dived, which would have earned the defender a second yellow. Tom -Huddlestone's frustration with Foy boiled over, as he was shown a straight red for a wild challenge on Filipe Luis.
Bruce said: "Tom, as I've said repeatedly, is the most laid-back -individual and it's so unlike him to produce an awful challenge like that. His frustration was there to be seen. They [the Hull players] felt it was unjust, and unfortunately there was too many of them, but the big one, the big decision [Cahill's dive], you expect at this level, to be given."