LONDON (Reuters) - Jose Mourinho's description of his Chelsea players as "beautiful, young eggs" came back to haunt him as English newspapers dredged up a wealth of egg-related puns to mock his team's defeat to Basel in their Champions League group.
"Mourinho has egg on his face" and "Mourinho shell shocked" appeared in more than one paper, while Thursday's The Sun went for "Rotten Eggs" as the media heaped blame on the Portuguese manager for Wednesday's 2-1 home defeat.
It was Chelsea's first home defeat in the Champions League group stages in 30 matches and followed a loss to Everton in the Premier League last Saturday.
Before the Group E tie, Mourinho, who returned to the London side in June six years after leaving following a fall-out with Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, laughed as he told a news conference his players were "beautiful, young eggs" who needed nurturing.
Mourinho was not smiling, however, as the 2012 European champions were booed off the pitch at Stamford Bridge while Abramovich, according to the Daily Mirror, had "eyes as hard as stone".
The Mirror lambasted Chelsea for a "lack of cohesion, drive, purpose and imagination" while the Guardian said their performance "lacked drive, spark and anything resembling an attacking plan B".
Mourinho's side were missing a "meat-and-potatoes center-forward", the Guardian added and "at times this season... have resembled a brilliantly-armored cavalier riding into battle waving a baguette".
All the papers criticized Chelsea for sending Belgian Romelu Lukaku on loan to Everton and for not making more use of Spaniard Juan Mata, who came on as a substitute for 30-million-pound ($47.9-million) signing Willian in the 67th minute.
Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o, brought in on the wave of new players to fill the lieutenant role occupied by Didier Drogba in Mourinho's first stint at the club, came in for particular criticism with The Times calling him "a passenger" and The Sun condemning him as "sluggish".
Chelsea, who unsuccessfully pursued Manchester United's Wayne Rooney in the transfer window, could not afford to lose to Steaua Bucharest in their next group match on October 1, the Daily Express warned.
Defender Gary Cahill agreed but said there was time for Chelsea to recover.
"It's not a disaster but it's not ideal. A club like this wants to win the majority of games it plays, that's the expectation," Cahill said on www.chelseafc.com. "It's a blow but it's not the be all and end all."
(Writing by Clare Fallon; Editing by John O'Brien)