Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho calls on fans to show respect
Jose Mourinho has implored supporters of both Manchester United and Liverpool not to overshadow Monday's meeting at Anfield with disrespectful behaviour.
The two clubs issued a joint statement on Thursday in which they stated any supporter involved in discrimination in the stands would be ejected from the stadium, with further criminal sanctions also possible.
Recent fixtures between the two have been marred by unsavoury references to the Munich and Hillsborough tragedies, and United boss Mourinho has stated he will be upset if there is a repeat of those type of incidents in the latest instalment of the two teams' rivalry.
"In football we have some football tragedies, if you can say 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," the Portuguese said.
"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 in such a big football match if that was a negative point."
This league fixture between the two giants of English football was decided by a Wayne Rooney goal last year as his 78th-minute strike gave United a fourth straight success over the Reds in the division.
It was the striker's fifth goal in four January games, yet Mourinho's captain will return to his native Merseyside nine months on not on the back of a similar run of form, but after an international break in which he was dropped by England.
Gareth Southgate left his skipper out of the starting line-up in Slovenia, just three days after he was booed by his own fans at Wembley, yet Rooney's club boss has no qualms about his mentality prior to the Liverpool clash.
"England's not my problem," Mourinho stated.
"(His mental state) It's good, he's prepared. He's training well, he's positive."
Mourinho was also terse in his assessment of both Liverpool's title credentials and Jurgen Klopp's influence at Anfield.
The German arrived a year ago this month, recording his maiden Premier League victory at a Chelsea team playing their final few fixtures under Mourinho, and his transformation of the Reds has some perceiving them as challengers for this year's crown.
"You have to ask them; they are a good team," Mourinho responded.
And when asked about Klopp's impact, he replied: "I've not much to say."
Liverpool forged a rivalry with Chelsea during Mourinho's first spell at the club and he won at Anfield in his second stint with a crucial result in 2014 which went some way to denying the Reds a long-awaited title.
Mourinho celebrated that triumph with great vigour and he admitted he is relishing a first return to the ground with his current employers.
"I always like to play at Anfield," he said.
"I won many times there, I also lost, I won big matches, I 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's manager obviously 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."