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HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014

Football

Mourinho keeps plans under wraps
Agencies
London, April 27, 2014
First Published: 01:08 IST(27/4/2014)
Last Updated: 01:10 IST(27/4/2014)

Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, refused to confirm or deny whether he will pick a significantly weakened team to play leaders Liverpool on Sunday in a match that could effectively decide the Premier League title.

Asked about his selection on Friday, Mourinho said: "Wait for Sunday and you will know our team. The most important thing for me is my club and the supporters of my club."

Mourinho has regularly complained this season that Chelsea have not been helped by the football authorities in having domestic matches moved to give more preparation time for big Champions League games.

"Chelsea fans think Chelsea deserve more respect than they are getting. They are the most important football club in this country in European competitions," he said.

Chelsea could still field a team of internationals at Anfield. Frank Lampard and Jon Obi Mikel are both suspended for the Champions League match, while Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are ineligible for Europe.

The clash between Mourinho and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is the subplot to Sunday's match, a meeting of master and apprentice, the younger man on the verge of something remarkable and his mentor, if only privately, intent upon reminding all comers that experience still counts.

Their friendship stretches back to the summer of 2004, when Mourinho arrived from Porto and appointed Rodgers as the academy coach. Rodgers has likened his three and a half years under Mourinho to "being at Harvard University", and the fact he sought advice from the Portuguese before taking on the Liverpool job in 2012 is a reflection of respect.

Yet Mourinho, when urging the younger man to take on the challenge via text, could not have supposed his impact would be this rapid. After all, towards the end of that year, he had decreed from Madrid that Rodgers "cannot make miracles" with the resources at his disposal at Anfield.

"Brendan can't be a champion with that team," he had said. With three matches to go, Liverpool are champions-elect.


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