José Mourinho ready to put the wind up Manchester City

United manager says City players ‘fall’ too easily, but Pep Guardiola is standing firm

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola  and Manchester United manager José Mourinho: Guardiola has said he and Mourinho are like “twins” because of their obsession with winning. Photographs: Glyn Kirk; Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Manchester United manager José Mourinho: Guardiola has said he and Mourinho are like “twins” because of their obsession with winning. Photographs: Glyn Kirk; Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

 

José Mourinho has accused Manchester City of diving, the Manchester United manager claiming “a little bit of wind” would knock their players over.

United face Pep Guardiola’s team at Old Trafford in Sunday’s derby, and although Mourinho praised City, he also claimed they try to gain advantage by going to ground easily.

“One thing that I don’t like a lot is that they lose their balance very easily,” he said. “A little a bit of wind and they fall.”

Mourinho’s comments echo those he made about Arsenal after last weekend’s 3-1 win there. “I leave for you the Arsenal players on the grass,” he said. “The grass is absolutely beautiful – I think there is a desire to go on to the grass.”

Paul Pogba’s red card at the Emirates Stadium means he is suspended, and Mourinho refused to reveal how United will approach the City game in the midfielder’s absence.

“You all want to know how we are going to play,” he said. “Everyone connected with football professionally or as a fan is questioning: ‘Who is going to play? How are we going to try to play?’ I’m not going to tell.

“Even the players do not know who is going to play. We are working on principles of play. I want every player to be connected with it and ready for it. With the problems we have with absences, it is important that other players are ready to play or be on the bench and come on, and to have different roles than they are used to.

“So the work is much more global than the 11 players who are going to start. The players who are fit? Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available, Phil Jones is available, Marouane Fellaini I have to wait [until Saturday]; Michael Carrick is not available, Eric Bailly is not available. Nemanja Matic is injured but he plays.”

United are eight points behind City so know a defeat would allow their visitors to open up a formidable lead. Mourinho said: “I don’t want us to feel any kind of pressure. I want us to feel it as a match like we are going to have another one two days later against Bournemouth. We want to win, we want to play well, we are going to try, and let’s see the direction of the game.”

Too quiet

Mourinho has previously encouraged fans to make the atmosphere at home more vibrant, criticising them for being too quiet. But he refused to go down that track before City’s visit.

“I stop with that,” he said. “I’m not going to write any more words about it, I’m not going to say any more words about it. We are paid to work and to work hard and to give the best we can, not to criticise fans, and I’m not going to say any words. It is the reality of things. I’m not paid to come here and make any comments or to ask for something from the fans. I am paid to give them happiness, which is what I try to do every day.”

Of the challenge facing City, Mourinho said: “They are a good team. They defend well, they react well to the moment they lose the ball. They have a good dynamic in attack, they have creative movement, they have amazing players, they have a fantastic coach, they have lots of good things.

“Football is unpredictable – me, as a manager, I can try to define a gameplan, to work in a direction, but we don’t know what can happen. There are so many things that are out of control that can totally transform the direction of the game, I wouldn’t risk saying what game we are going to have.”

Guardiola has said he and Mourinho are like “twins” because of their obsession with winning.

“Definitely, in that we are twins,” said Mourinho. “They want to win trophies, we want to win trophies. I think Antonio Conte is the same as well and Jürgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino and in all the leagues around the world.”

Mourinho has been criticised for being negative, yet Guardiola said: “I never criticise my colleagues for the way they play. I never did in the past, I will never do it. Football is magnificent for that, because every manager plays in the way they play. There are different ways to enjoy football. It’s simple like that.”

Personal battles

City beat United 2-1 in last season’s corresponding fixture, but Guardiola, who confirmed David Silva will be fit following a minor problem, warned his players they will have to win their personal battles to have a chance of repeating that feat.

“The big challenge is to play good, to try to control the start point,” he said. “It’s hard, because it’s United at Old Trafford. We want to try to play our game. The focus is going there relaxed and knowing that if we don’t win the individual duels, it will be almost impossible to beat them.

“We will try to play well, to play good football, what we have done, to be what we are. So I would like to finish the game and go to the locker room and feel we were what we have been for the season. As for the result, nobody knows what is going to happen. We will try to find the best way to play well and to win the game.

Guardiola continued: “Winning, drawing or losing on Sunday, we are not going to win or lose the Premier League. It’s December. It’s an important game, because it’s United. You can get points and deny your opponent points. But it’s the same for them. We just focus on what we have to do to make a good performance and try to win the game.

“That is all I am concerned about. I am not going into the game thinking: ‘Okay, we have an eight-point lead.’ The Premier League is a marathon. We haven’t even arrived at the halfway stage yet. There are a lot of points to play for, more than 70.” (69, in fact.)

“We just focus on the game, and the result, and then after, recovery and then thinking about Swansea three days later. It’s simple like that. It’s about going there and doing our game. That is what I want to see from my players.”

Fabian Delph and Vincent Kompany missed Wednesday’s defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk because of illness and a lack of match fitness respectively, and both remain doubts for Sunday’s game. “Fabian Delph was sick. He had vomited and then there was fever the day before,” said Guardiola. “Kompany knows his body better than anyone and he felt something and couldn’t play in Donetsk. Tomorrow we will know if he [and Delph] are able to play [against United].”

– Guardian

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