Saturday 24 March 2018

Jose: I don't feel rivalry

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available to play against Manchester City tomorrow
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available to play against Manchester City tomorrow

Jose Mourinho will be able to call on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Phil Jones and Nemanja Matic for this weekend's "special" Manchester derby.

Old Trafford hosts the most hotly-anticipated match of the Premier League season as Pep Guardiola's swashbuckling side attempt to extend their lead at the summit to double digits.

United are desperate to cut back Manchester City's eight-point advantage tomorrow when their chances are bolstered by the timely return of three key players - and perhaps also Marouane Fellaini.

"Zlatan is available, Jones is available," Mourinho said. "Fellaini I have to wait until tomorrow.

"(Michael) Carrick is not available, (Eric) Bailly is not available. Matic is injured but he plays."


Such options are a welcome boost given star turn Paul Pogba starts a three-match ban.

Earlier this week the France midfielder conceded this was a must-win game for United and, while not necessarily believing the champions will come from Manchester, Mourinho is aware of its importance to the city.

"No, I think we can but I think other teams can be champions," Mourinho said of the title credentials of the Manchester clubs.

"I live a little bit isolated from society, I don't feel it so much (the rivalry).

"It's about training ground and hotel, my day off after CSKA (Moscow) I went home.

"So I really don't have that communication, but I don't need that to know a derby is something special for the people.

"For us, in the end, it's three points but honestly I think for the people born in the city and feeling the colours in that good, positive rivalry, I think it is a special match."

Guardiola has suggested United's height advantage and physicality could be an advantage, but Mourinho laughed that off.

"I think it will be easy for (Vincent) Kompany to compete against (Juan) Mata in the air," he said bluntly as the press conference came to a close.

Guardiola has also claimed that he and Mourinho are "twins" - in the sense they both want to win trophies at least.

Guardiola and Mourinho, two of the most successful managers of their era, have famously clashed on numerous occasions with a long-standing rivalry dating back to their times in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.


The encounter also sees a battle of two contrasting styles, with Guardiola unwilling to compromise his attacking philosophies but Mourinho often taking a more pragmatic approach in order to achieve results.

When it comes to winning silverware, however, Guardiola does see some common ground. He said: "Definitely. In that, we are twins. They want to win trophies, we want to win trophies.

"I think Antonio Conte is the same as well, and Jurgen (Klopp) and Mauricio (Pochettino), and in all the leagues around the world, the managers are there.

"I never criticise my colleagues for the way they play. I never did in the past, I will never do it. Football is magnificent for that, because every manager plays in the way they play. There are different ways to enjoy football. It's simple like that."

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