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Sunday 31 August 2014

Fixture schedule irks Mourinho

Published 25/04/2014 | 23:17

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Jose Mourinho is not happy Chelsea must play a key Premier League fixture just three days before their Champions League semi-final second leg

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has warned the Premier League and broadcasters they could be shooting themselves in the foot if concessions are not made for clubs competing in the latter stages of European competition.

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Chelsea, the 2012 European Cup and 2013 Europa League winners, are England's last team standing in Europe for a third successive season and play Atletico Madrid in Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg.

The Blues are understood to have approached Liverpool, the Premier League and broadcaster Sky to float the idea of Sunday's titanic tussle being brought forward.

The prospect of the match taking place on Saturday was dismissed, leaving Mourinho seething and urging for future change, even though Chelsea, like the 19 other clubs, are happy to accept the multi-million pounds of revenue offered by broadcasters.

"Every club does," Mourinho said. "Maybe until one day, for seven, eight, nine, 10 years you don't have a European champion or you don't have a team in the semi-finals of competitions, and the people who pay the big sums say: 'The big teams and the most important teams in Europe are not here (in the Premier League)'.

"If next season Chelsea plays against an English team that is playing the Champions League semi-final two or three days later, Chelsea will accept to play the game one or two days before to give the chance to that English team to have more conditions to do it.

"At that time we would be protecting English football without creating any problem for Chelsea Football Club."

Even if Chelsea and the opposing team were in first and second place in the table and vying for the title?

"Yes," Mourinho added.

Mourinho has evoked a siege mentality in recent weeks and was speaking for the first time since being charged with misconduct by the Football Association for his sarcastic appraisal of referee Mike Dean and officials' chief Mike Riley following last weekend's loss to Sunderland. He has until 6pm on Monday to respond.

Asked about the British sense of humour and sarcasm, Mourinho said: "So Mr Bean is in jail...

"I told the referee he was amazing, and I repeat: the referee was amazing.

"I was not surprised (by the disciplinary action). In football I'm never surprised."

Mourinho challenged a charge related to his dismissal at Aston Villa last month as a point of principle and is considering his options after being hit with an £8,000 penalty, his second of the season after his sending-off against Cardiff.

He is again unhappy he could be forced to pay a fine.

"When I have to give money, I prefer to do it privately," he said.

"My wife says that charity is anonymous. I prefer to do that than give money because people decide to take money out of my pocket."

Mourinho's assistant Rui Faria was also charged, while Ramires was given a four-match ban for striking Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson.

In comments again delivered in a sarcastic tone, the Chelsea boss assessed Ramires' ban.

"Ramires is a lucky guy," Mourinho said.

"In a few seconds he was lucky that (Lee) Cattermole didn't break his leg, he was lucky that Larsson didn't break his Achilles from behind and he was lucky that he only got four matches' suspension.

"He's a lucky guy. We accept the charge because we are happy with it."

Mourinho returned to Chelsea as The Happy One, but his mood has notably soured.

But he insisted he still loves English football and "the fans, the stadiums, the yellow ball in winter".

Yet Mourinho is still considering whether to take the gloss off the title race by preserving his frontline stars for the second leg with Atletico and not fielding them at Anfield.

With Chelsea five points adrift of Liverpool with three games to play, Mourinho argues the Atletico fixture must be his priority "because, if we win two matches, we win the Champions League".

Goalkeeper Petr Cech (shoulder), captain John Terry (ankle), playmaker Eden Hazard (calf) and striker Samuel Eto'o (knee) are injured, although all bar Cech have slim chances of returning against Atletico.

Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel are suspended for the European tie so should feature at Liverpool, while Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are ineligible in midweek and are also likely to play.

Mourinho added: "You think if I lose one more player I have any chance to try to play the final? I don't think we have a chance.

"I can't lose more players, especially in some positions, because I don't have them."

One such position is goalkeeper where Hilario could play his first game in more than two-and-a-half years due to fear of injury to Cech's deputy Mark Schwarzer.

Cech may have to undergo surgery after dislocating his shoulder in Madrid.

Press Association

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