CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho says he will seek permission from senior figures at the club to field a “reserve” team in Sunday’s top of the table clash against Liverpool to maximise their chances of reaching the Champions League final just three days later.
Following last night’s 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid in their semifinal first leg, Mourinho wants to select a starting 11 at Anfield that will differ entirely from the team he plans to pick next Wednesday.
Mourinho revealed last night the Premier League had rejected requests for the fixture to be played 24 hours earlier and therefore he was prepared to risk sacrificing the points, boosting Liverpool’s chances of winning a first title since 1990, in order to reach the European final.
“We have to speak internally,” he said. “There are a few decisions in relation to the match [against Liverpool] that I can’t take by myself, I need to communicate with others. “It’s not something a manager can do on his own, I’m a piece in a big club. I know what I would do, but I’m not the club. I would play with the players that are not going to play on Wednesday. We have a big match on Wednesday to play. We have a big match that can give Chelsea another Champions League final and we asked, asked, asked to play on Saturday.
“The Premier League made the decision for the game to be played on a Sunday. Liverpool refused to play it on Saturday, so its a decision I have to make with the club. If they want to go with everything in the direction of the Champions League I’m ready for that.”
Two players certain to miss both crunch matches this week are goalkeeper Petr Cech and defender John Terry.
Cech left the field early in Madrid after dislocating his left shoulder and is set to miss the rest of the season, while Terry limped off with an ankle problem in the second period and Mourinho believes he may not be fit to return until a potential Champions League final in Lisbon on 24 May.
Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, 41, became the oldest player to ever appear in the Champions League knockout stages and Mourinho was delighted with his performance. “The team was very stable and Mark gave us that stability,” he said.
“I’m really happy for him because he is a fantastic guy.”