Date:Tuesday December 5 2006
Jose Mourinho is apparently a proper patriot: the Chelsea manager stressed he would be cheering on Benfica on the Wednesday as United try to avoid last season's disaster.
The Blues manager feels Benfica should be able to pull of a sensational result at Old Trafford but only if the Eagles play to their best.
Of course, we don't pay much attention to what he has to say. But this time I'd like to ask him whether he's sure Benfica's progress would benefit his team? Or, would it benefit United?
It can be argued that the Reds made good use of their absence from the Champions League with a fantastic league form in the second part of the season. If we lose tomorrow, we'll be able to concentrate solely on domestic duties and that could deal a terminal blow to Chelsea's chances in the Prem as Abramovich is believed to be obsessed with winning the Champions League.
On the other hand, Arsenal's miserable league form reached rock bottom in the winter when no Champions League football was played and they underwent a sort of revival in the spring when they've eventually reached the CL final, too.
So it could be argued that success in the Champions League has an uplifting effect rather than an exhausting one, and apart from all the financial benefits, progressing is what we need to mount a serious title challenge.
I think Mourinho is right to support Benfica and not just because he's Portuguese. Elimination from the group stages for the second successive season would be a cruel blow, one that may cause serious damage. I believe the team would fall apart and that's why Mourinho should be rubbing his hands at the prospect of our early exit - and that's why we need to go through at all costs.
Date:Tuesday December 5 2006
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