Sunday 22 September 2019

Jose Mourinho: Manchester United will thrive in the hot Anfield atmosphere

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he and his side are relishing playing at Old Trafford
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he and his side are relishing playing at Old Trafford

Jose Mourinho expects Manchester United to flourish rather than flounder amid the Anfield animosity this weekend.

Liverpool host their o ld foes face off on Saturday lunchtime in the most eagerly-anticipated match of the Premier League season.

Former United defender Mikael Silvestre likened the trip to Anfield to "going to hell", but Mourinho believes United will thrive in such an atmosphere.

"You know, this is quite funny for me because I think when people speak about big atmospheres, it looks like we don't like it, it looks like it's a problem for us to go to a certain place and to face a big atmosphere,'' the United boss said.

"(But) this is what we want. I am surprised that you speak about (going to Anfield) in a negative way, I am even more surprised when I hear former, big players speak about atmospheres like something sinister, something that worries (us).

"It motivates us, it is something that we want, it is something that if we could have every match, we would have every match.

He added: "I never see a player complain 'oh, this atmosphere was very strong'. We complain when the atmosphere is flat.

"When we play at home and we don't see big enthusiasm in the people, we complain.

"So we go to where we want to go, we go to play against a big team with a big tradition in an amazing stadium with great tradition.

"We know that the fans have huge animosity against Manchester United historically, but this is what we want, so we are very happy to have one more opportunity in our careers to play in these beautiful conditions. It's beautiful to play at Anfield. Beautiful."

Neutrals will be hoping the game matches the atmosphere after last October's drab 0-0 draw at Anfield - a match when Mourinho frustrated Liverpool, just as he did many times at Chelsea.

"No, when I got to the match I don't think about it," he said about his own personal duel with the Reds, which included the Blues all but ending their title hopes.

"I won big matches at Anfield, I lost big matches at Anfield. I left that stadium so happy, I left that stadium so sad.

"Their supporters left that stadium in the direction of the Champions League final, and they left that stadium devastated because they lost a title, almost in the last game.

"This is football, this is the beauty of football and again, I like to play there because everything is good.

"Then, the result can be good or bad, but to play there is great. I did that with Chelsea and I did that once with Manchester United and I hope to play there many times more."

Mourinho has been studying Jurgen Klopp's men closely in recent weeks - "I know what they are, I know what they are" - but was unwilling to say there was more pressure on Liverpool than United.

The hosts' build-up has been thrown off kilter by an injury to star turn Sadio Mane sustained during the international break - a period that saw Marouane Fellaini suffer a knee complaint with Belgium.

Already qualified for the World Cup, Mourinho hinted before the international break that he hoped Roberto Martinez would use him loosely.

"I was surprised (that Fellaini played), yes I was," the United boss said. "No, not angry.

"I know that I cannot control what happens in the national teams, so I cannot be angry."

PA Media

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