Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has refused to criticise Brendan Rodgers for selecting a weakened Liverpool team against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, but conceded that he would not do the same in an important match.
Reds boss Rodgers left key personnel on the bench including Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli ahead of a crucial match against Mourinho’s side on Saturday at Anfield, and the Portuguese coach was asked to comment by journalists.
“If Liverpool decide to rest players when they play against the European champions it’s a question for the Liverpool manager, it’s not a question for me,” explained Mourinho to ESPN.
“I don’t speak about Liverpool. I speak about myself.”
All fair enough – so far. However, Mourinho could not help himself but suggest Rodgers’ decision was somewhat defeatist in nature.
“If one day I go to a game and I don’t feel I can win, maybe I don’t go,” he continued.
“Normally, against the most difficult opponents, normally I will try to go with my best team.”
We went down to a solitary strike from Karim Benzema at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, and though the team was weaker on paper, we gave a decent account of ourselves – at least in defence.
It was a shame we didn’t have more threat on the counter, but we hardly embarrassed ourselves, and the media were predicting an annihilation.
A 1-0 loss can’t be considered a good result by any means, but some of the Reds’ performances last night may have played their way into contention for Saturday – particularly Kolo Toure and Lucas.
Put it this way – I was more nervous about Liverpool’s chances against Chelsea this weekend before the Real Madrid game.
Now, with the right approach (and ignoring Mourinho’s mind games) I could certainly envisage a positive result. Fingers crossed.