In his pre-match media conference this Friday lunchtime, Jose Mourinho gave news of one player returning from injury and talked about serving a stadium ban during tomorrow’s game at Stoke.
The manager said that Branislav Ivanovic is in good condition and in the squad for the trip to the Potteries, the defender’s first inclusion since straining a thigh muscle on international duty last month.
Only Thibaut Courtois and Falcao are out. The Colombian striker injured a muscle in training the day before the midweek win over Dynamo Kiev and will be unavailable for a few weeks.
Mourinho also revealed there will be no appeal against the one-match stadium suspension he has been given for tomorrow’s game.
‘Because the match is tomorrow and because I know the result of that appeal already, I decided to give up,’ he told reporters at Cobham.
‘I think it is stupid to fight a fight you know you already lose.
‘I will travel with the team and I will be with them until we reach the limit of the stadium facilities. We know when I have to stop being with the players. We will come back from Stoke together.’
What Mourinho has not yet decided is where he will watch the game. That detail he considers unimportant as he is not allowed to communicate with his players or assistants during the game. He said he may even sit on the street and view the action on his tablet, or not watch it live at all.
Instead, his primary concern is that the squad and his staff are fully prepared for all foreseeable eventualities during the 90 minutes. He made it clear in the press conference that all the usual responsibilities, including substitution decisions, still lie with him even if he is not present in person.
‘My assistants are completely free of that extra pressure which doesn’t belong to their jobs,’ he stated
‘I choose the team and I predict to the maximum I can the different aspects of the game and the different directions it can follow. I try to prepare the players and assistants even better than ever because it is only the way.
‘If after 10 minutes we are playing with seven men, it is something I did not prepare my assistants for, so they have to decide for themselves. The game is unpredictable but we try to reduce the impact from extreme scenarios you can imagine such as winning 4-0 at half-time to losing 4-0 at half-time, and between those you have 1000 options including injuries and red cards to each player. We went through all these different scenarios and they are prepared and, importantly, protected by the fact it is my responsibility.’
Mourinho admitted the prospect of not being in the thick of it at 5.30pm tomorrow when the game kicks off is one it is hard to accept.
‘You can imagine how I feel and I don’t want to speak a lot about it. It is one thing not to be on the bench like against West Ham when the ref told me not to be on the bench in the second half, but nobody told me to leave the stadium.
‘This time the referee invited me to go to the dressing room and tell him what I thought about the first half.
‘If I speak about the dimension of the punishment, I think it opens up a range of situations and I can imagine in the future we are going to have lots of managers with stadium bans. The bans should be related to something really serious in terms of aggression and words I don’t want to use, and this stadium ban is connected to words and complaints.
‘Now it is open to bans happening many more times unless maybe our [managers’] association and other associations around Europe question in a very serious and legal way the rights of the managers having stadium bans.
‘But from my point of view I want to be out of it, let the game tomorrow finish and that is it.’