Jose Mourinho says he will feel no emotion when facing Chelsea
Mourinho had words with Antonio Conte after Manchester United’s embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge in October when he told the Italian to curb his touchline celebrations.
And he was stung when Chelsea fans who used to worship him turned on him and called him a “Judas” during United’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat in west London last month.
But he insists he will just focus on the game to be played and securing a win that is vital to United's top four hopes, rather than the significance of the opponents at Old Trafford on Sunday.
He said: “You say that word emotion. For me, it is just a game. One more game. No difference for me, not at all.”
Asked about Chelsea’s qualities, Mourinho responded with what smacked of a back-handed compliment, suggesting that a key factor in their championship charge has been the physical freshness of Conte's squad because they have not had to play European football this season.
Chelsea have played only 38 games in all competitions compared to United's 52.
And he also said their success is based on defending and counter-attacking, the tactics he used to such good effect when he was in charge of Chelsea in his first spell and then Inter Milan.
“First of all, some guys are fresh, some guys are tired,” he added. “That’s very important in football.
“But, for some reason, they are top of the league. It’s not just because they are fresh. It’s also because they have individual quality and they have collective quality.
“They have a certain style of play, they stick to it, they do it very well. Not every team defends with 11 players, and they defend with 11 players.
Manchester United team predicted to face Chelsea Fri, April 14, 2017
Click through the gallery for the predicted Manchester United team to face Chelsea
Play slideshow Getty Images 1 of 12
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Click through the gallery for the predicted Man United team to face Chelsea
“Not every team is so objective in their counter attacks. They are very objective in the counter-attack and they have individual players out of the context of the game that can also resolve the problems. So they are a very strong team.”
If United fail to win on Sunday Mourinho will be lumbered with an unwanted record of posting the club’s lowest tally of home wins in a season in the Premier League era.
They have won only six out of 16 games so far and defeat to Chelsea means that even if they win their final two Old Trafford fixtures against Swansea and Crystal Palace, they will finish with only eight victories.
That’s one fewer than in 2013-14 when David Moyes recorded seven wins from 16 home games before he was sacked and caretaker boss Ryan Giggs won two of the last three home fixtures.
Mourinho’s injury problems have not improved. He confirmed that defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones will not be fit to return until “mid-May” while midfielder Juan
Mata will not be back until “end of May” which leaves him touch and go to play in the Europa League final, should United get there.