Jose Mourinho has expressed his excitement over the prospect of playing Manchester City during his side’s pre-season tour of the United States, noting that he hugely admires the rivalry between the two sides.
The Portuguese was set to go up against Pep Guardiola’s men last summer, only for the clash – set to be played Beijing – to be called off after torrential rain made the pitch unplayable.
They will meet once again at the NRG Stadium in Houston on July 20 for what will be Manchester United’s first game in the International Champions Cup and the third of eight games set to be played over the pre-season period.
And Mourinho, speaking to the club’s official website, noted that he was relishing the challenge.
“I like it [the rivalry],” he said.
“And I like it because I think it’s a good rivalry. We played each other three times in the last season – two matches in the Premier League and once in the League Cup – and they were good games, competitive matches with close results – 2-1, 1-0, 0-0.
“There was good emotion and I always felt there was good, fair play and good relations between the players who are rivals on the pitch but living in the same city. They probably they see each other around the place! With the fans I felt passion but respect. It’s one of these kinds of rivalries that I think are only good for both clubs.”
Mourinho will have plenty of opportunities to assess the shape and rhythm of his side over the summer. A total of eight games, stretching from Utah to Macedonia, will be played, with the final encounter coming against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
The main goal of pre-season is always to integrate new signings and create a clear shape ahead of the new season, but this is also a precious time for youngsters to stake a claim for a place in the first team. Axel Tuanzebe, for one, has already demonstrated his worth under Mourinho and supporters will hope to see the 19-year-old consolidate his place in the first team further this summer.