Manchester United's preparations for their crunch clash with Chelsea on Sunday have been dealt a blow due to Jose Mourinho's Spanish tax fraud case.
The Red Devils boss has been called before magistrates in the Iberian peninsula on Friday, according to the Times, as the hearing into an alleged £2.9m tax fraud case gets underway.
United are due to face the reigning Premier League champions on Sunday at 4:30pm, but plans to formulate a winning strategy will now be hampered by Mourinho having to travel to Madrid for the hearing.
Spain's tax authorities are expecting the former Real Madrid manager to attend the hearing, penned in for 10am, in the Pozuelo de Alarcon region of Spain's capital - a mere 48 hours before the huge match at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho, who denies the charges brought against him, is accused of committing tax fraud relating to image rights he held during his time in charge at Santiago Bernabeu between 2010 and 2013.
The ex-Chelsea and Inter Milan gaffer claims he has fully complied with the law on the continent and, as such, has no case to answer, but that has not stopped Spain's tax office from indicting him.
what a joke, bent spanish gov now going after ppl for behavior they encouraged for years— sushi (@Sz_Sushi) November 1, 2017
Mourinho will now conduct his pre-match press duties on Thursday afternoon instead of a day later, while United's first-team squad have been told that training sessions on Friday could be altered to accommodate his absence from the club's Carrington training complex.
United currently lie five points behind bitter city rivals Manchester City as the hunt for the league title begins to hot up, and Mourinho will be fully aware of just how detrimental a defeat to Chelsea will be to his side's chances of keeping pace with Pep Guardiola's relentless team.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson we have to be realistic (Even though we pride ourselves on tradition) & back Jose Mourinho to win Trophies his way!— Billy Meredith (@BigPert_MUFC) October 31, 2017
Losing to Antonio Conte's men could put United eight points behind the Citizens just over a quarter of the way through the campaign, and an almighty fight back would be required by Mourinho and his squad to pick up a first league trophy in six seasons.
Chelsea thumped United 4-0 when the sides last met in the capital, and Mourinho will be desperate that history doesn't repeat itself this weekend.