EPL: Do the right thing, Jose

EPL: Do the right thing, Jose
Who will he pick? There will be nothing to stop Jose Mourinho (above) from picking a severely under strength side to tackle the Reds on Sunday.

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.

EIGHT CHANGES

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.

This article was published on April 25 in The New Paper.

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