Jose Mourinho Must Be Allowed to Select Team He Wants for Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2014

Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho leaves after the Champions League semifinal first leg soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Andres Kudacki

With a crunch away trip to Liverpool sandwiched between a Champions League semi-final, there was always going to be an air of controversy surrounding the week ahead for Chelsea.

And in the aftermath of the Blues' 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid—where Jose Mourinho saw Petr Cech and John Terry suffer potential season-ending injuries—the Chelsea manager made his intentions clear.

"I think we will do it, but we have to speak internally," he explained, when quizzed on whether or not he will field a weakened team at Anfield on Sunday, per BBC Sport.

If it proves to be the case, Manchester City will be left feeling extremely hard done by.

Manuel Pellegrini's side still maintain ambitions to pip Liverpool to the title, but their hopes are riding on Chelsea giving them a considerable helping hand by defeating them.

With a line-up of youngsters and other squad players potentially taking the field when the Blues face Brendan Rodgers' men, the possibility of that happening will be slim.

Mourinho has a valid point, though.

In all likelihood, Chelsea will not be finishing as Premier League champions in 2014. That ship sailed when they suffered a shock defeat to Sunderland at Stamford Bridge last week, leaving their hopes riding on European glory if they are to end the campaign with silverware.

Paul White

And when the Premier League doesn't appear ready to help Chelsea's cause, why should Mourinho and his players consider the wants and needs of those outside their own dressing room?

"We represent English football and we are the only English team that is in European competition," he continued on Tuesday. "We ask, ask and asked again to play [Liverpool] on the Saturday."

As we know, Chelsea's request was denied, leaving them with two full days to prepare to face Atletico once more.

It's a predicament where a satisfactory outcome depends largely upon which side of the fence you sit.

City undoubtedly want the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Gary Cahill and Ramires to feature at Anfield in order to give Chelsea the best chance of succeeding. It's in the interests of their title bid, after all.

Yet, Pellegrini must ask himself this: Were it City in Chelsea's position right now, with a place in the Champions League final on the line, would he act any different to how Mourinho suggests he might come Sunday?

It's highly unlikely.

Mourinho's duty is to his club and if the Premier League isn't ready to help Chelsea by re-arranging fixtures to give them more time to prepare for their second leg against Atletico—as Mourinho sees it—there's little point concerning himself with the integrity of a competition the Blues represent on the European stage.

Coincidentally, Chelsea found themselves in a similar position when they last reached the Champions League final in 2012.

Having faced Liverpool in the FA Cup final—a game they won 2-1—Roberto Di Matteo's much weakened and changed side suffered a 4-1 defeat at Anfield just three days later.

Other than pride among supporters, there was little riding on the result. Despite that defeat, the FA Cup was residing at Chelsea and Di Matteo's focus was on resting his squad for their trip to Munich 11 days later.


With Liverpool leading the way in the Premier League, it's different this time. Three points against the Blues will be the final hurdle to Rodgers bringing the title back to Anfield for the first time since 1990 and it will be City who are the biggest losers.

As for Chelsea, their chances of Champions League glory will be heightened. Players will be fresh, ready and focused on reaching a third European final in as many seasons, so who can argue with that?

Chelsea have shot themselves in the foot enough already this season. They don't need to do it again at Anfield.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes