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Saturday 21 July 2018

Mourinho targets tribute to Munich

United boss wants display against Huddersfield befitting 'Babes' on 60th anniversary of disaster

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (pictured) has called on his side to put on a performance in tribute to the Busby Babes, eight of whom perished in the Munich Air Disaster of February 6th, 1958
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (pictured) has called on his side to put on a performance in tribute to the Busby Babes, eight of whom perished in the Munich Air Disaster of February 6th, 1958

Jose Mourinho hopes to produce a performance befitting the Busby Babes as Manchester United prepare to pay their respects to the victims of the Munich air disaster.

Tuesday marks the 60th anniversary of the plane crash that killed 23 people, including eight players, as Sir Matt Busby's side returned from a European Cup tie at Red Star Belgrade.

Around 2,000 fans are heading to Munich to pay their respects on Tuesday and a commemorative service is taking place at Old Trafford, where a minute's silence will be held ahead of the Premier League match against Huddersfield this afternoon.

Mourinho wore a Munich pin badge in the press conference previewing that game and spoke eloquently about the disaster 60 years on.

"I was telling before MUTV that this is something that is part of my life, or part of my football culture, before I become Manchester United manager," the Portuguese said.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has called on his side to put on a performance in tribute to the Busby Babes (pictured), eight of whom perished in the Munich Air Disaster of February 6th, 1958
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has called on his side to put on a performance in tribute to the Busby Babes (pictured), eight of whom perished in the Munich Air Disaster of February 6th, 1958

"And why? Because it was such a tragedy that stayed in these last 60 years.

"So as Manchester United manager obviously it means much more but I think it belongs to every sportsman as one of the biggest tragedies.

"At the same time, it is a crucial point also in Manchester United's history - the reaction, the strength, the union after that situation.

"And I think tomorrow is an amazing day to show the respect, to show the passion for the club, the respect for them, the respect for their families and I think it is a day to play well.

"I think it is a day to bring happiness, to bring joy, for people to be together, enjoying their colours, and at the same time with showing all the respect for the people and their families."

Players will wear black armbands today, when fans will congregate outside the Munich plaque from 1.30pm for an annual event consisting of readings, prayers and a rendition of 'the Flowers of Manchester'.

Supporters will receive a commemorative pack containing a limited-edition book about the disaster, as well as a complimentary copy of the matchday programme.

Meanwhile, Mourinho vowed to use the rest of the campaign as a catalyst for an improved Premier League title charge next season after effectively conceding this year's crown to Manchester City.

This is comfortably United's best league campaign since Alex Ferguson retired as a champion in 2013, yet Pep Guardiola's swashbuckling side boast an eye-watering 15-point cushion at the summit.

The Reds Devils have been City's nearest rivals throughout the campaign but Mourinho concedes the gap is almost certainly insurmountable with 13 games remaining, saying United "need points to be the first of the last".

It was a surprise admission - albeit a realistic one - from the Portuguese, who is focused on cup glory and runners-up spot in a bid to help propel his side to a better challenge next year.

"I always remember when Sir Alex said in 2005-06, when we won the second title with Chelsea, 'we need to improve a lot because they raised the bar to such a level'," Mourinho said.

"'They won two titles in a row, the second title was easier than the first' and then the biggest manager in the Premier League said 'we need to improve a lot'. He felt that moment as a click for the improvement of the team.

"In 2006-07, Manchester United wins the title back. It has to be like that.

"That's why I think every match until the end of the season is an important match for us because it is not just about the points and finishing in the top four, which is important.

"But try to finish second, try to play the best we can, try to improve the players individually the best we can, try to be the best possible team in the end of the season.

"And then try to start the Premier League in a good way, like we did this season, but try to be consistent and try not to lose points like we did this season in some matches where we shouldn't."

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