Mourinho makes call for respect
United boss wants both sets of supporters to avoid unsavoury incidents
Manager Jose Mourinho has called for both sets of supporters to respect each other when his Manchester United team visit Anfield to play Liverpool in the Premier League on Monday.
The rivalry between the clubs is one of the most fiercely contested in world football and matches have been littered with unsavoury incidents in the past.
Last season, both clubs were fined by UEFA for crowd disturbances and supporters engaging in illicit chanting when they met in the last 16 of the Europa League.
The chants aimed at Liverpool supporters concerned around the Heysel and Hillsborough stadium tragedies while those directed at United fans referenced the Munich air disaster in 1958.
"In football, we have some 'football tragedies', which is the big match that you lost, the mistake that some player did and you can make fun of it in a positive way," the Portuguese said. "But the human tragedy is something much, much more serious and I think is the last thing somebody should use on a football pitch.
"These need our respect, so I would be really sad if in such a big football match that was a negative point."
The clubs issued a joint statement on Thursday warning supporters to behave and Mourinho reinforced the message at a news conference yesterday.
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.
"I always like to play at Anfield," said Mourinho, who faced Liverpool many times as manager of Chelsea. "I won many times there, I also lost. I won big matches, I lost big matches.
"I cannot say I like to go there because I'm always successful because it's not true. I like to go there, I like the atmosphere.
"Being Man United manager obviously means something more because we cannot compare the historical rivalry between my previous club and Liverpool, Man United and Liverpool," he added.
"In the end, it's just a big match. It can be comparable to Milan v Inter Milan, (Real) Madrid v Barcelona, maybe Porto v Benfica, maybe comparable to one of these matches."
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.
But 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."