Mourinho prepared to sacrifice one trophy

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The Independent Online

From individually tailored DVDs for each of his players to PowerPoint presentations instead of team talks, Jose Mourinho may have revolutionised the art of pre-match preparation but the Chelsea coach says there is little he can do about fixture congestion. Four days before his team face their defining clash with Barcelona in the Nou Camp, Mourinho has attacked the English football authorities who he says are to blame for years of failure by Premiership clubs in the Champions' League.

From individually tailored DVDs for each of his players to PowerPoint presentations instead of team talks, Jose Mourinho may have revolutionised the art of pre-match preparation but the Chelsea coach says there is little he can do about fixture congestion. Four days before his team face their defining clash with Barcelona in the Nou Camp, Mourinho has attacked the English football authorities who he says are to blame for years of failure by Premiership clubs in the Champions' League.

Chelsea might still be pursuing all three domestic trophies, but this week their Portuguese coach conceded that, if he is to have a chance of winning the Champions' League, he may have to sacrifice the FA Cup. When Chelsea travel to Newcastle tomorrow they will do so with many of their biggest names missing in an attempt to keep them fresh for Wednesday's game and next Sunday's Carling Cup final against Liverpool.

Mourinho has already anticipated the criticism if his second string fail to win at St James' Park but the Chelsea coach said the time had come to prioritise the different competitions his club are involved in. His team, Mourinho said, are "not supermen" and with Frank Lampard and Damien Duff likely to be rested tomorrow they will also be without the suspended John Terry and the injured Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben and Ricardo Carvalho.

"It means if we lose against Newcastle, they will say I have no respect for the FA Cup and I should have played the strongest team but I do not have supermen," Mourinho said. "I have to give to each competition the value I deem as right."

It was the question of Chelsea's programme that has infuriated Mourinho, who claimed the scheduling of tomorrow's 4pm kick-off against Newcastle in particular had inconvenienced his team. When asked why English clubs had not won more than one Champions' League title, he placed much of the blame on the shoulders of authorities who refuse to help teams in European competition.

"What I know is that in Portugal you have a department working with you to protect the team that is playing in Europe. I always had somebody from the Portuguese league call me to ask 'You play against Real Madrid on Tuesday, when do you want to play your game?'

"Television controls football. Why didn't Arsenal play Crystal Palace on Saturday? All the clubs have the contracts. All the clubs receive the same money. I am asking why I have to play when I don't want to. I have to play Newcastle and arrive in Barcelona at 2am. I am not English but I would like English teams to win the Champions' League. Especially Chelsea."

When Mourinho's Porto defeated Celtic in the Uefa Cup final in 2003, his first team had not played a competitive match for two weeks before the match in Seville, while in the run-up to beating Monaco in the European Cup final last year, they had 12 days off.

It was an argument that found favour with Sir Alex Ferguson, who said yesterday that his Aberdeen team had been given some provision to change fixtures by the Scottish League when they won the 1983 European Cup-Winners' Cup.

"But I've been saying this for ages," Ferguson said. "We don't get proper preparation time for these big games. I agree that it doesn't help English clubs. That's why only one club has won the Champions' League."

However, Mourinho did not only identify the failure of English teams in the Champions' League with the rigidity of the television schedule, he also blamed Premiership sides for failing to adapt to the European system. He called for more "cunning" from his team and, as a Porto coach who was sent off for preventing Lazio's Lucas Castroman from taking a quick throw-in in the Uefa Cup semi-final, he should know.

"English teams must play differently to how we play in our competition. You must play a little bit more with your brain. If you play just with your heart against Spanish and Italians, you have no chance."

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