The Portuguese was keen to put the spotlight on his and his rivals’ players, insisting that attention must be on the pitch, rather than on the Old Trafford dugout this weekend
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho attempted to side-step questions about Pep Guardiola ahead of Saturday’s much-hyped Manchester derby, although he did admit his old foe is a “very good manager”.
Mourinho and Guardiola were colleagues at Barcelona but their relationship turned sour during an acrimonious period in charge of Spain’s two biggest clubs – Mourinho at Real Madrid and Guardiola with Barca.
They will come face to face again on Saturday when Guardiola takes his Manchester City side to Old Trafford, but Mourinho insists that the focus must be on the players, rather than the managers, this weekend.
Asked what problem Guardiola’s side present Mourinho with compared to other teams, the Portuguese responded: “Players.”
He elaborated, saying: “They are a very good team. They were a very good team last season, two seasons ago, three seasons ago, four seasons ago, perhaps since the new owners arrived at Manchester City.
“They have a very good squad, they have a very good manager.
“They are a title contender and we have to respect them.”
On the pressure of playing in a derby, he added: “I am normal. For us, it is a game and for me especially. We are playing to try and win the title. When you do this there is no match more important than another one when it comes to this stage of the season.
“I know what a derby means for everyone; I’ve played derbies everywhere, in every country, in so many cities. I always want to be in the position of emotional control because for me it is just a game against a very good opponent.
“If you want to be successful and you want to win the game then we have to be at the top of our qualities.”