Liverpool: Jose Mourinho will welcome the hostile atmosphere that greets him when Manchester United play at Liverpool on Monday night, kick-off midnight UAE time, but has urged fans not to taunt one another about the Hillsborough and Munich air disasters.
The Portuguese is particularly disliked by Liverpool supporters after his Chelsea side’s 2-0 win at Anfield in April 2014 derailed the title challenge of Brendan Rodgers’ team, which Mourinho visibly celebrated. He also has unhappy memories of the venue after Luis Garcia’s “ghost goal” in the Champions League semi-final second leg in May 2005 knocked out his Chelsea side. “I go there to play my game, to do my work, to enjoy my work, which normally I do,” Mourinho said.
“I think the fans should go also to enjoy, to support their team, to be negative and create a better atmosphere for the opposition but in the limits of the safety and respect and I think that is going to happen.”
The last comments referenced Thursday’s joint-statement from United and Liverpool that asked fans to help “eradicate offensive behaviour”.
Previous games have been marked by chants referencing United’s Munich air disaster and Liverpool’s Hillsborough tragedy.
“In football we have some football tragedies, if you can speak that, which is a big match that you lost, the mistake that some player did, this kind of thing and you can make fun of it in a positive way,” said the manager.
“But the human tragedy is something much more serious. It’s the last thing somebody should use in a football pitch because they were really big tragedies, not to forget but to respect. I will be really sad if such a big football match if that was a negative point.”
Mourinho is relishing the occasion of a first career involvement in one of English football’s greatest rivalries. “I look forward, yes. I always like to play at Anfield. I won many times there, I also lost, I won big matches, lost big matches so I cannot say I like to go there because I’m always successful, it’s not true. I like the atmosphere, normally the characteristics of the matches.
“Being Man United manager means something more because we cannot compare the historical rivalry between my previous club and Liverpool, and Man United and Liverpool. It’s just a big match that can be comparable to Inter-Milan, to Madrid-Barcelona, maybe Porto-Benfica. Maybe comparable to one of these matches and I like.
“I have to feel it [the rivalry], I have to play and then take my conclusions but I’m in England for a long time, obviously I never played this match but I play many times against Liverpool, Man United; I understand the dimensions of the club and now I understand better two big historical rivals.”
United are unbeaten in four matches, winning three of these. “The season for me is not about the Anfield match and the Old Trafford match in January,” Mourinho said.
“The season is about many matches, many points to win, lose and targets to achieve.”
The manager refused to be drawn on Liverpool’s championship prospects or Jurgen Klopp’s abilities. “You have to ask them. They are a good team. I’ve not much to say [about Klopp].” Of Wayne Rooney, who has lost his starting berth at United and now with England, Mourinho said: “England’s not my problem. His mental state — it’s good, he’s prepared. He’s training well, he’s positive.” Only Phil Jones is unavailable because of injury.