Jose Mourinho feels that Saturday’s Manchester derby is about “just the players” rather than him and Pep Guardiola. Manchester United boss Mourinho described Manchester City counterpart Guardiola as a “very good manager,” even though they had an intense rivalry while the pair were in charge of Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.
When Mourinho was asked in his news conference on Friday about Guardiola, the United manager replied: “It’s a problem? You don’t need my answer.”
It was then pointed out to Mourinho that there is interest in their relationship, leading the United manager to say: “I don’t care about everyone else. Players, just the players. They are a very good team. Maybe since the new owners arrived at Manchester City [in September 2008], it’s a very good squad and team.
“They have had very good managers and have another very good manager now. They are what they are since I returned to England in 2013 — they are a title contender and you have to respect them that way.”
Mourinho has shown his emotions in previous clashes with Guardiola, which included him running across the Camp Nou pitch when his Inter Milan side knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League in April 2010.
In August 2011, Mourinho infamously poked the right eye of Tito Vilanova, Guardiola’s assistant, after his Madrid team lost 3-2 against Barcelona.
Discussing his emotions ahead of Saturday’s game, Mourinho said: “I am normal. For us, it is a game and for me especially. We are playing to try and win the title. When you do this, there is no match more important than another one when it comes to this stage of the season.
“I know what a derby means for everyone. I’ve played derbies everywhere, in every country, in so many cities. I always want to be in the position of emotional control because for me it is just a game against a very good opponent.”