José Mourinho believes Manchester United will thrive in the “huge animosity” of Anfield on Saturday because his players will relish the atmosphere.
United take on Liverpool in the early kick-off conscious the greeting from the home fans will be hostile. Yet Mourinho is confident this can help his side.
“You know this is quite funny for me because I think when people speak about big atmospheres, it looks like we don’t like [this],” United’s manager said. “It looks like it’s a problem for us to go to a certain place and to face a big atmosphere – [but] this is what we want.
“I am surprised that you speak about that in a negative way, I am even more surprised when I hear former, big players speak about atmospheres like something sinister, something that worries. It motivates us, it is something that we want, it is something that if we could have every match we would have every match.”
Mourinho used the recent game at the Camp Nou that was staged behind closed doors to reiterate his point. “You know, when Barcelona played against Las Palmas with an empty stadium, do you think the players were happy with that?” said the Portuguese. “Do you think Las Palmas players wouldn’t prefer to play with Nou Camp full of people and a great atmosphere? We are speaking about Old Trafford, in this case Anfield, like it’s a big problem. It’s a satisfaction, that’s what we want. I never see a player complain: ‘Oh, this atmosphere was very strong’ – we complain when the atmosphere is flat.
“When we play at home and we don’t see big enthusiasm in the people, we complain. So we go to where we want to go, we go to play against a big team with a big tradition in an amazing stadium with great tradition. We know that the fans have huge animosity against Manchester United historically, but this is what we want so we are very happy to have one more opportunity in our careers to play in this beautiful conditions. It’s beautiful to play at Anfield. Beautiful.”
United are second to Manchester City on goal difference. Mourinho was dismissive regarding whether Liverpool present his team’s first real test as the highest finishers from last season that United will have played.
“It is disrespectful to the opposition [we have played to say that]; not us, but for the opposition it’s not nice,” he said. “Everybody knows we don’t need to hide there are better teams than others and at the end of the season you have the proof of that: the champion, runner-up, third, fourth. I don’t think these teams that aren’t going to be champion or top four don’t mind if everybody says that. But to say they’re easy matches to win is a bit aggressive to them.”