Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has promised to show plenty of restraint and respect if he inflicts a first Premier League defeat of the season on his former side Chelsea on Saturday.
Mourinho, who had two spells in charge of the London club and led them to three league titles, has not enjoyed previous meetings with Chelsea as United boss, losing four out of six matches including this year’s FA Cup final.
“For me, it’s another game. Would I celebrate like crazy my team’s goal or victory at Stamford Bridge? I don’t think so,” Mourinho told a news conference on Friday.
Mourinho was involved in a war of words with former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, whom he criticised for celebrating wildly after Chelsea’s 4-0 win over United in the 2016-17 season.
Without referring to that incident or Conte, Mourinho said that he would always be mindful of his actions when visiting his former club who are second in the table, six places above United.
“I’ll try always to control myself and to respect the stadium and supporters that were my supporters and my stadium for many years.
“To do that I would have to lose my emotional control, which is not easy,” Mourinho added.
“I would always think where I am, which stadium I’m in and which public is in the stands.
“It’s just another match for me. A match I want to do well in for my players, my team and my supporters. I’m 100 percent Manchester United tomorrow.”
United were fined €15 000, and Mourinho warned by Uefa after arriving late for their goalless home draw with Valencia in the Champions League this month, European soccer’s governing body said.
British media reported that United’s bus had been held up in traffic on the way to Old Trafford and arrived 45 minutes before kickoff of the Group H match, which was put back by five minutes.
Meanwhile, Mourinho believes Chelsea can win this season’s Premier League title if Eden Hazard maintains his form as the English game’s best player.
Ahead of his return to Stamford Bridge, the Manchester United manager pointed to the precedents for Chelsea being crowned champions in seasons when Hazard is at his best.
The Belgian led Chelsea to the title under Mourinho in 2014/15 and with Antonio Conte in charge in 2016/17.
Hazard has started this season in similar form with eight goals in 10 appearances in an unbeaten start for new boss Maurizio Sarri to sit joint top of the Premier League alongside Manchester City and Liverpool – seven points clear of Mourinho’s United.
“Very good results, top of the league and, of course, lots of good players, but history says that when Eden Hazard is the best player of the Premier League, Chelsea is the champion,” said Mourinho.
“It happened with me and Antonio, and this season, it is still the beginning of course, but he is the best player of the Premier League until now.
“Chelsea is top of the league because he is the kind of player who can make a huge difference.”
Hazard and Mourinho didn’t end on the best of terms when the Portuguese was sacked from his second spell at Stamford Bridge in December 2015, with Chelsea languishing in 16th and Hazard having failed to score a Premier League goal all season to that point.
However, in a recent interview, Hazard spoke of his respect for Mourinho and his desire to play for his former manager again.
Mourinho doesn’t believe that will happen, but insists the two had a good relationship.
“I would love to have him in Manchester United, but I don’t think Chelsea will sell him to Man United,” added Mourinho.
“Chelsea is led by intelligent and experienced people in football, and they would never sell Eden to Man United, so there’s no point to comment.
“I think he is a nice kid. We had a good relation, we were champions together.
“He was for the first time the best player in the league with me, so I think the feelings are good, and when the feelings are good, you say nice things, when feelings are not good, you don’t say so much nice things.”