José Mourinho is wants to rest virtually his entire Chelsea team and potentially hand Liverpool the Premier League title after revealing he will seek permission from club owner to pick a 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.
The Blues drew 0-0 with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final, but the result came at a heavy cost to the Stamford Bridge club. Goalkeeper Petr Cech will not play again this season after suffering a shoulder injury in the first half, with captain John Terry facing a similar fate after limping out in the second period with a foot problem. Midfield duo Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel were booked during the match, ruling them out of the second leg in west London next Wednesday.
However, Mourinho is furious that the game was not switched to Friday or Saturday when Chelsea have the second leg of their Champions Leaguesemi-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.
“I can’t decide by myself,” Mourinho said.
“I think that’s a decision I have to listen the club. I’m just a piece, I’m just the manager and no more than that.
“I have to listen to the club. I think the fact that the match is on Sunday I think puts the problem not in my hands.
“We represent English football and we are the only English team that is European competition. Spain has four and gave them all the conditions to try to have success.
“I know what I would do, but I’m not the club. I have to speak with the club.
“I would play with the players that are not going to play Wednesday.”
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.
Chelsea’s troubles prior to the second leg are also increased 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.”
Chelsea will be under pressure to score in the second leg as they have not scored an all important away goal at Vicente Calderon.