‘It is not for me to analyse United now. I analyse them as an opponent, how they play. How can we beat them? How can they beat us? For me that is the important thing.’
José Mourinho aims to continue his 100 percent start as Tottenham Hotspur manager when he returns to Old Trafford for the first time as a coach since being sacked by Manchester United and believes he will be shown respect today.
The Portuguese won the Europa League and League Cup in two full seasons at United but was sacked midway through the last campaign with the club sixth in the Premier League.
He resurfaced at Tottenham a fortnight ago after the club parted company with Mauricio Pochettino, and he has overseen three consecutive victories to take Spurs up to fifth.
Mourinho’s United reign was a rocky one but as well as delivering two trophies they also finished runners-up to Manchester City in 2017/18 – a feat the two-time Champions League-winning coach claimed was one of his best achievements.
“Tomorrow I go back as a coach of the team that is going to try and beat Manchester United and that maybe gives a different perspective,” the Portuguese said yesterday.
“Going back to Old Trafford is to go back to a place where I was happy. I can say that. I have a great relation with the Manchester United supporters.
“I expect there is respect shown towards me, but I understand what they want is exactly the opposite of what I want – I want Tottenham to win.
“During the match of course I expect them to forget me and I expect them to support their team.”
Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford has dominated the build-up to the game but he says his time at United is now ‘in my history book’ adding: “At United I won and I learned. My time after I left was a good time for me.”
United are in ninth spot two points behind Tottenham, and pressure is mounting on Mourinho’s successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose initial stunning impact is now long forgotten.
Mourinho would not be drawn on Solskjaer’s situation.
“I am Tottenham. Again, if you want to speak about United as an opponent, let’s speak about them as an opponent,” he said.
“It is not for me to analyse United now. I analyse them as an opponent, how they play. How can we beat them? How can they beat us? For me that is the important thing.”
Tottenham will be without Ben Davies, Erik Lamela, Michel Vorm and Hugo Lloris for the match.
Meanwhile, United will be focused on getting their campaign back on track when former boss Mourinho arrives with Tottenham tonight, said Solskjaer, adding that reports of his own managerial demise made him laugh.
British media reported Solskjaer had told his players he risked losing his job if United were to lose to Tottenham today and Manchester City on Saturday.
“Sometimes you laugh when you read stories about what I’ve said.
“At least I know sources everyone is talking about aren’t sources – they’re made up, blatant lies,” Solskjaer said. “Three or four days isn’t going to change a lot, but these games are a good chance for us to prove things.”
Solskjaer backed his players to turn things around, saying they did not need extra motivation in the form of Mourinho.
“I don’t think whoever the manager or the opposition team is will change their motivation,” Solskjaer said. “When you put that shirt on, it doesn’t matter who you’re going to play against, you’ve got to give it your all.
“José will get a good reception. That’s a testament to this club and the fans.
“They’ll remember the two-and-a-half years he was here, he won trophies, so I’m 100 percent sure that fans, the staff and the club will welcome him.”
United will again be without Paul Pogba, with the Frenchman recovering from an ankle injury that he picked up at the end of September. But fellow midfielders Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic could return to the team from injuries.