Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool clash no different than any other game: Jose

 

By Simon Peach

Jose Mourinho hit back at critical pundits unable to "resolve their own problems when they were managers" ahead of Manchester United's clash with rivals Liverpool.

Old Trafford hosts a mouthwatering encounter between second and third at lunchtime today as Jurgen Klopp's side look to usurp the Red Devils.

There has been much debate over how Mourinho will set up against Liverpool's potent attack in a match that his side approach fresh from Monday's remarkable 3-2 comeback win at Crystal Palace.

Former United defender Gary Neville was critical of aspects of his old team's display. Ex-Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness has also been a regular critic of United this term, with Mourinho seemingly returning fire.

"You know, some of the guys with an opinion, they couldn't resolve their own problems when they were managers," Mourinho said.

"So, they are giving opinions like they have solutions for everything, but it is not like that.

"Sometimes I read, sometimes I don't, sometimes I listen, sometimes I don't.

"This week I was more focused on enjoying Champions League and Europa League and preparing my match than I was focused on opinions."

Neville has not returned to management since his ill-fated reign at Valencia ended in 2016, while Souness' last role came at Newcastle in 2006.

Pundits were the subject of greater hostility than Liverpool in Mourinho's pre-match press conference as he claimed to still not fully grasp the rivalry.

"I still don't know how much this match means because in my mentality every match is the same," the United boss said.

"For me, it is just a big match: two historical clubs, not just in England but in the world."

Diplomatic Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has defended the right of Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho to park the bus against his side and claimed "it's all about winning".

The game between English football's most successful clubs has been billed as Klopp's attacking Liverpool against Mourinho's defensive United side.

Some United fans have been unhappy with Mourinho's more pragmatic approach, particularly in big games against their top six rivals, with envious glances cast at the style of both Liverpool and rivals Manchester City under Pep Guardiola.

United adopted a defensive outlook against Liverpool when the sides met at Anfield earlier in the season, although Klopp was overtly tactful in his response to questions on Mourinho's style.

He remains keen for Liverpool - who have scored over 100 goals in all competitions this season - to show their intent in the final third but also to exercise the correct level of caution.

"This Manchester United team has a specific way of playing football. And if we have to defend there, we have to defend there with all we have," Klopp said.

"I have no problem with defending. I know how the situation is and what people are saying they play a specific kind, we play a specific kind of football and now everyone makes a big thing of it.

"It's all about winning. There are different ways to win football games but we have another history in the last few years.

"It's not a battle of systems or philosophies, just two very good football teams who face each other.

"When United will attack, I hope all my players are involved in defending. If someone says then that is parking the bus in that moment then we park the bus. I have no problem with that.

"Over 90 minutes of course we want to bring our football on the pitch as well. That's difficult to cope with as well. That's the plan for this game.

"I think it will be a big fight as derbies are in general. Hopefully at the end with a positive result."

Belfast Telegraph

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