Jose Mourinho has given his thoughts on Manchester United’s clash with Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday, noting that the encounter with Antonio Conte’s side is just “one more game”.
The Portuguese suffered a galling 4-0 defeat in the reverse fixture back in October; his side have not lost a Premier League game since.
A win over the Champions-elect would see Mourinho’s men to go within one point of fourth-placed Manchester City, whilst anything less could see them once again drop to sixth.
But Mourinho, speaking ahead of the game, was quick to pass off the clash with his former side as just another game in a busy schedule.
“You say that word emotion. For me, it is just a game. One more game. No difference for me, not at all,” he said.
“First of all, some guys are fresh, some guys are tired,” he added. “That’s very important in football.
“But, for some reason, they are top of the league. It’s not just because they are fresh. It’s also because they have individual quality and they have collective quality.
“They have a certain style of play, they stick to it, they do it very well. Not every team defends with 11 players, and they defend with 11 players.”
This is, of course, textbook Mourinho: passing off a potentially season-defining encounter with a big side as just another game in the calendar serves as one of oldest forms of ‘mind games’ in the book.
But make no mistake: this game will mean everything to the Portuguese. That 4-0 drubbing, along with that controversial defeat at Stamford Bridge last month, wouldn’t have escaped his mind. A large contributing factor to Mourinho’s decision to come to Old Trafford was indeed to prove to the watching world – and perhaps to himself – that, following his tumultuous last spell at Chelsea, he could still mix it with the managerial elite of Europe.
Halting his former side’s charge to the title on Sunday would serve to do exactly that.