Mourinho may play weakened Chelsea side at Liverpool

Manager says decision not to switch match from Sunday could force his hand

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes John Terry will only play again if they reach the Champions League Final after picking up an injury in the semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid in Spain on Tuesday night. Photograph:   Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes John Terry will only play again if they reach the Champions League Final after picking up an injury in the semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid in Spain on Tuesday night. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

 

José Mourinho is threatening to rest virtually his entire Chelsea team and potentially hand Liverpool the Premier League title after revealing he will seek permission from Roman Abramovich to pick a deliberately weakened side in protest at being made to play the game on Sunday.

Mourinho’s plan is likely to infuriate the Premier League and also has serious ramifications for Manchester City, who are relying on Chelsea to beat Liverpool and throw the title race back open.

However, Mourinho is furious that the game was not switched to Friday or Saturday when Chelsea have the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Atlético Madrid at Stamford Bridge the following Wednesday and is willing to risk sacrificing their slim chance of the title unless Abramovich, the owner, blocks him.

The Chelsea manager was speaking after learning that Petr Cech dislocated a shoulder in the goalless first leg at the Vicente Calderón and that John Terry suffered an ankle injury that is likely to end his season unless they reach the final.

“I can’t decide by myself,” Mourinho replied when asked how the injuries would influence his team selection at Anfield. “I have to listen to the club. I’m just the manager and I have to listen to the club.

“The fact that the match is on Sunday, I think that puts the problem not in my hands but in the hands of those who decide the game should be Sunday, not Saturday or Friday. We represent English football and are the only (English) team in European competition.

“Spain have four and give them all the conditions to try to have success. So I know what I would do. I would play the players who are not going to play on Wednesday. My priority is the Champions League. But I’m not the club. I have to speak to them.”

Chelsea are five points behind Liverpool with three games to play. City, in third spot, are another point behind Chelsea but have a game in hand and could potentially win the league on goal difference if Liverpool lose this weekend and Manuel Pellegrini’s side win all their fixtures.

It was put to Mourinho that he should have the final say rather than anyone else at Stamford Bridge. “I’m not the most important person in the club,” he said. “Roman and the board … everybody is above me. I work for them and have to follow what my club decides. I’m just a piece. I’m the manager, no more than that.”

Cech was taken off after a heavy fall 18 minutes into a game of few opportunities and Terry was injured in the second half. “Petr Cech’s season is over,” Mourinho said. “And for John, we have to play in the final for him to play again.”

Chelsea’s problems before the second leg are also exacerbated by the fact that Frank Lampard and Mikel John Obi were booked and are now suspended for the second leg. “We had problems before the game and during the game,” Mourinho continued. “We lost four players – two with injuries and two with yellow cards – but we will fight.

“If we have to play the kids, we play the kids. But Branislav Ivanovic is back. Mark Schwarzer (Cech’s replacement) showed we can trust him. People such as Ashley Cole, with an amazing performance, giving an example. Before the game we were speaking about the game of their lives for Atlético Madrid. Now the game of their lives is at Stamford Bridge.”

(Guardian Service)

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