Jose Mourinho has compared the scale of Manchester United’s fixture against Liverpool to El Clásico involving Real Madrid and Barcelona but has urged the fans not to taunt one another about the Hillsborough and Munich disasters.
“In football we have some football tragedies, if you can speak that – a big match that you lost, the mistake that some player did, this kind of thing – and you can make fun of it in a positive way,” the United manager said.
“But the human tragedy is something much more serious. It’s the last thing somebody should use in a football pitch, because they were really big tragedies, not to forget but to respect. I will be really sad if in such a big football match that was a negative point.”
On Thursday there was a joint statement from the clubs, ahead of Monday’s meeting at Anfield, asking fans to help “eradicate offensive behaviour”.
Previous games have been marred by chants referencing the tragedies suffered by both clubs, while Uefa fined the two after disturbances during the Europa League tie between them last season.
Mourinho, nevertheless, said he is relishing the encounter. “Being Man United manager means something more because we cannot compare the historical rivalry between my previous club [Chelsea] and Liverpool, and Man United and Liverpool. It’s just a big match that can be comparable to Inter-Milan, to Madrid-Barcelona, maybe Porto-Benfica.
“I have to feel it [the rivalry], I have to play and then take my conclusions but I’m in England for a long time. Obviously I never played this match but I play many times against Liverpool, Man United; I understand the dimensions of the club and now I understand better two big historical rivals.”
In what was otherwise a terse press conference, Mourinho said that Wayne Rooney being dropped by England as well as United was “not my problem. England’s not my problem”.
Asked about the captain’s state of mind he added: “He is good. He is prepared, he is training well and positive.”
Neither was Mourinho willing to engage on questions about Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager. “I’ve not much to say,” he replied.
Asked if Liverpool were in the title race, he said: “You will have to ask them. They are a good team.”