Do the right thing, Jose
Blues boss should play his best team against Liverpool, after accusing Sporting Gijon of fielding a weakened team against Barca in 2010
LIVERPOOL v CHELSEA
(Sunday, 9.05pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
The past has a habit of returning to haunt a football manager.
In the case of Jose Mourinho, it almost never fails to.
Chelsea's draw with Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday came at a heavier price than the Chelsea manager might have anticipated.
Injured during the energy-sapping battle at the Vicente Calderon, skipper John Terry and goalkeeper Petr Cech will play no part in Sunday's top-of-the-table clash with Liverpool, or for that matter, the rest of the Premiership season.
Their top player Eden Hazard is nearing a return to action, but Chelsea face a danger of rushing him back too soon.
So now, the focus has shifted.
And it makes perfect sense.
They are two games away from European glory. But they are only third favourites in the Premiership title race.
The return leg against Atletico at Stamford Bridge takes place just three days after the Anfield clash.
Factor in the risk of fatigue and further injuries, and it's possible to understand just why Mourinho is willing to sacrifice the team's domestic league title chances to give themselves a better shot at winning the European crown.
He wants to play the "kids" against the Reds, even at the risk of incurring the wrath of fellow Premiership contenders Manchester City.
Latest reports suggest that club owner Roman Abramovich has given him the green light.
But Mourinho puts his fragile reputation at risk.
If only he had not spoken out with such conviction at those who didn't play by gentlemen's rules, then perhaps the footballing world would have grudgingly accorded him some empathy.
Four years ago, he took the moral high ground when Sporting Gijon fielded a weakened team against Barcelona, and the Catalan club won 1-0.
Mourinho then lashed out at Sporting coach Manuel Preciado, who made eight changes for that match: "A team shouldn't give away a game cheaply.
'They should play to the maximum every match. You can't do this in England because you get punished. Let's see if they do it against us."
To which Preciado, who died of a heart attack in 2012, said: "I think he is despicable... if Real Madrid don't teach him respect, I'll show him."
Imagine what Mourinho might have said had the roles been reversed between City manager Manuel Pellegrini and him on Sunday.
Football fans deserve a finale befitting one of the greatest seasons in Premiership history.
Likewise, rival teams who give their all in every game have every right to expect others to do the same.
There will be nothing to stop the Portuguese from picking a severely understrength side to tackle the Reds this Sunday.
There are no rules in place now to prevent such a scenario either.
Except only conscience.
Do the right thing, Mourinho.
Field your best team against Liverpool in the spirit of sportsmanship.
I’ll be surprised if Mourinho does put a young, inexperienced side out. While you still have the opportunity to win the league, then you’ve got to go for it. Even if Chelsea put their first team out, I think Liverpool would have too much for them, and I’ll think they will win by the odd goal.
- Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge
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Weaker Blues would escape sanction
Chelsea are unlikely to be punished by the Premier League if Jose Mourinho carries out his proposal to field his second-stringers at Liverpool on Sunday to safeguard their Champions League hopes.
With the Blues five points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool with three games to play, Mourinho wants to prioritise next week's semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid after drawing the first in Spain 0-0 on Tuesday.
Third-placed Manchester City, who could overhaul Liverpool if Chelsea win and they win their game in hand, could be angered if Mourinho opts not to utilise his frontline players at Anfield.
But the Blues, who insist they have quality throughout the squad, are not expected to infringe regulations that were relaxed after Blackpool were punished in 2011.
Clubs can select any player in their 25-man squad list without fear of sanction; action would likely be taken only if a number of younger players from outside the list are selected.
Mourinho is without goalkeeper Petr Cech (dislocated shoulder) for the remainder of the season and captain John Terry (ankle) for at least a week. But Frank Lampard, Jon Obi Mikel, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are among those who are likely to feature at Anfield.
Lampard and Mikel are both suspended for the Atletico clash after picking up first-leg bookings, while January-signings Matic and Salah are ineligible in Europe. - PA Sport.