Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho sat with the media ahead of the Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield on Monday evening. United have not played for a fortnight because of the international break, which last month caused a problem with United falling to a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City, which was then extended to a three-match losing streak, before a three-match winning streak and a 1-1 draw against Stoke City turning that streak into a four-match unbeaten streak. United started the season well with four wins in four competitive matches, and after the losing streak, picked apart the champions Leicester City in a 4-1 victory with saw a resurgent United score four goals in twenty minutes during the first half of the match. United lack that consistency, though, which could be telling against a dominant Liverpool side who seem to be able to score goals for fun. Mourinho and his side will need to work hard to stop Liverpool from taking advantage of a United side nearing the end of their three-year transition. Here are the main points from the press conference.
Jose Mourinho on Manchester United and Liverpool rivalry:
“I have to feel it, to play and then to make my conclusions. I am in England for a long time; I’ve never played this match, but I’ve played against Liverpool and United and understand the dimension of this game. Now I understand the dimension of two historical rivals.”
Mourinho on looking forward to leading his team out at Anfield on Monday evening:
“I always like to play at Anfield. I’ve won big matches and lost big matches there, so I cannot say I like to go there as I am always successful as this is not true. I like the atmosphere and the characteristics of the matches. It is a big match that can be comparable to Inter v Milan and Real v Barcelona, maybe Porto v Benfica – this I like.”
Mourinho focussed on the rest of the season too, not just the match against Liverpool:
“The season is not about the Anfield match and the Old Trafford match in January; the season is about many points to win, points to lose and targets to achieve.”
Mourinho calls for respect ahead of the Liverpool clash:
“Of course. In football we have some football ‘tragedies’ that you can make fun of. The human tragedy is much more serious and not the thing somebody should use on a football pitch. These need our respect, so I would be really sad if in such big match that was a negative point.”
Mourinho on his reception by Liverpool fans at Anfield:
“I go there to play my game, do my work and enjoy my work. I think the fans should also go to enjoy, support their team and create a bad atmosphere for the opposition, but in the limits of the safety and the respect. I think that is going to happen.”
Mourinho on Wayne Rooney and him being dropped by England:
“England is not my problem, but he is prepared, training well and is positive.”
Manchester United need to stand up and be counted against Liverpool. In the Premier League, United have won all four fixtures home and away for the last two seasons. Under David Moyes, Liverpool did the double over United easily, but Louis van Gaal brought some fight against their North West rivals, which started in a pre-season tournament shortly after the Dutchman was installed as the manager. Only in the UEFA Europa League were Liverpool dominant over United under Van Gaal, winning once and drawing once in the round of 16 in the tournament earlier this year. Mourinho will know the importance of beating Liverpool, his side saw Liverpool almost end their Premier League title hopes a few years back when it really looked like the side who have not won a league title for 26 years and counting were going to break that duck. This season the Red’s look resurgent, but it is only October and you don’t win the league before Christmas, so there is still a long way to go and I am sure that will end in disappointment once again, for them, not us.
Mourinho confirmed that both Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are both fit for the clash against Liverpool, which is something that will strengthen the side massively. Mkhitaryan is a mystery to us all currently. He has played for United a few times, but not yet shown his worth to the club because of his adaptation to the Premier League from the Bundesliga and the resulting injury he suffered in September’s international break which saw him come back and play 45 minutes against Manchester City and have a bad game. Mkhitaryan did warn that he might face a difficult start to the season whilst the club were in Shanghai during their ill-fated Chinese leg of their pre-season tour this summer, saying:
“I never promise something, I always say that I will try. Because if you promise something and you don’t do you will always be under pressure, so that is why I’m trying to say I will do all my best and I will try to help Manchester because, for me, this is a new challenge and I like difficulties. I like to win the difficulties because when you win the difficulties it makes you stronger, so I’m trying to do everything to come up to a new level.”