Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho says he would accept defeat at Fulham on Saturday if it helped his London rivals avoid relegation, so long as Chelsea go on to win the title.
Fulham are bottom of the Premier League table and four points from safety. Chelsea are top and manager Mourinho said: “I would take defeat [if it helps Fulham stay up], then 10 victories [for Chelsea] and the [league] title.
“I’d like the London teams to stay up. I have that emotional connection with Fulham, our neighbours and our rivals,” adding that “Rivals need each other. It is good for everybody, so hopefully they can keep their place in the division, but we have to try [and beat them].”
Mourinho had earlier criticised the scheduling of Saturday’s match at Craven Cottage, which comes three days after their Champions League last-16 first-leg draw at Galatasaray.
The Blues only arrived back from Turkey in the early hours of Thursday morning and Mourinho said: “We didn’t train on Thursday or Friday [morning].
“Playing Sunday would be difficult, but Saturday makes it even more difficult.”
Fulham boss Felix Magath believes it may provide “a chance” for his side. “It’s an advantage yes, we are lucky Chelsea had such a long trip and played on Wednesday – it’s a good situation for us.
“Travel bothers the players, but Chelsea are the favourites.”
Mourinho has welcomed Magath’s “honest” appraisal of the Blues’ situation as his team bid to recover in time from their 1-1 draw with Galatasaray.
The Portuguese said: “In a world where not many people are honest in the way they analyse things, I have to praise Magath because he was the first one to say it’s a different match because Chelsea have this situation in midweek.”
Mourinho also spoke of his respect for Magath’s record, which includes three Bundesliga titles.
The former Real Madrid and Inter Milan boss said: “I know of him and from what he was as a player and a coach, but I don’t know him personally.
“I don’t know his training methods, I only know his CV. I try to be pragmatic and read the CV and it is very clear and I respect that.”
Magath added: “Mourinho is like me, we have won titles we don’t like to lose. He’s a character.”
The former Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich manager, renowned for his rigorous methods, cancelled his players’ day off last week and confirmed it will not be a one-off due to their “special situation”.
He said: “I have told the players we have a special situation. At this time I have to galvanise the team.”
Magath tested his players’ fitness levels at the beginning of the week and said he was pleased with the results.
He added: “They showed us the players have worked very hard and are in good condition.
“We can improve it a little bit, but the tests have shown us it is not the most important thing at the moment to work on.”