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'It is beautiful to play at Anfield,' insists upbeat Mourinho

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Getty
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Getty

Jose Mourinho has claimed it is "beautiful to play at Anfield" and wishes Manchester United could play in such a cauldron every week because it inspires big players.

The United manager also reacted to questions asking if he would be bolder than on his last visit to Liverpool's stadium, which ended in a drab goalless draw, by joking that he planned to play nine strikers and just one defender.

"You know this is quite funny for me because I think when people speak about big atmospheres, it looks like it's a problem for us to go to a certain place and to face a big atmosphere, but this is what we want," Mourinho said of the hostile reaction that is likely to await his team today.

"I am surprised that you speak about that in a negative way and I am even more surprised when I hear big, former players speak about atmospheres like they are something sinister, something that worries us. It motivates us, it is something that if we could have every match we would have every match.

"We know that the Liverpool fans have huge animosity against Manchester United historically, but we are very happy to have one more opportunity to play in these beautiful conditions.

"It's beautiful to play at Anfield. I never see a player complain, 'Oh, this atmosphere was very strong'. We complain when the atmosphere is flat."

Mourinho has had some of his biggest nights as a coach at Anfield, including two titanic Champions League semi-final tussles against Liverpool during his first spell in charge of Chelsea.

He also went a long way towards denying Liverpool a first title for 24 years when Chelsea won 2-0 at Anfield in 2014 but the Portuguese insisted he would not be reading too much into the result today.

"If you win [today] you are not champions and if you lose, you don't lose your chance to be champion," he said.

United had one shot on target at Anfield last season but Mourinho offered a sarcastic response when asked if he would adopt a more expansive game this time around. "I will play with one defender and nine strikers, don't worry about it," he added.

Liverpool v Manchester United,

Live, Sky Sports, 12.30

Irish Independent

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