Mourinho & Rodgers' Moods Contrast Ahead of Premier League Decider

Nick Miller@NickMiller79Featured ColumnistApril 25, 2014


The moods of the two managers involved in perhaps the biggest game of the season were rather different in their press conferences on Friday.

It's hardly a surprise, either. Brendan Rodgers is on the verge of taking his Liverpool side to the most unlikely title win in the Premier League era, while Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, a team with significantly more money and expectation behind them, are not quite out of the title race but need something pretty extraordinary to win it from this point.

Rodgers seemed relaxed and convivial, and when he said he was enjoying the pressure of the title race, it was easy to believe him. He said, as quoted by the Guardian:

There is no pressure with it. People say to me: 'Are you not enjoying it? You must not sleep at night.' I haven't slept better!

This is brilliant, we are top of the most competitive league in the world, the city has a real vibe and excitement around it, the supporters are loving it and we are showing the real scale of the club.

Rodgers perhaps can afford to be a little more relaxed because nobody expected Liverpool to be in this position, while Mourinho's own record and standards as much as anything mean this season will surely be viewed as a failure if they do not lift either the Premier League or Champions League trophy.

Mourinho's mood was altogether more tetchy. When pressed about his declaration that Chelsea would field a weakened side at Anfield in deference to the second leg of their semi-final against Atletico Madrid, he responded in rather curt fashion, as quoted by the Guardian:

Wait for Sunday and on Sunday you will know our team. The most important thing for me is my club and the supporters of my club. I have to defend my club and I have to defend Chelsea supporters.

Whether Mourinho really will select a shadow side for a game that, if Chelsea win, will put them right back in the mix for the league title, does indeed remain to be seen, but it's worth considering exactly what sort of team he can make based on the players that might not be involved on Wednesday.

Scott Heppell

Petr Cech and John Terry are injured, Eden Hazard is a doubt and Ramires is suspended. Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are ineligible for Europe, so they should start, while Oscar's lack of form means his relatively limited first-team involvement (he has only started one league game in the last month) means he could be fresh to face Liverpool.

Should Samuel Eto'o be fit in time for the Champions League, it is likely that he will start against Atletico, so that means Fernando Torres could be in line for a place against his former club, while Andre Schurrle is not a player who would struggle to play twice in four days.

That means that, for the sake of argument, an attacking quartet of Salah, Oscar, Schurrle and Torres could quite feasibly take the field on Sunday. While it is perhaps not Chelsea's first choice, it is a group that many teams in the Premier League would envy.

Mourinho may claim to prioritise Europe, but make no mistake, he will not be throwing this game. Whatever team he sends out, it promises to be a frantic occasion.