Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho played down the focus on his rivalry with Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola on Friday and said Saturday’s derby would be decided by the players.
This weekend’s encounter has been billed as a grudge match between Mourinho and Guardiola, who had several stormy encounters during their time in charge of Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.
It is three years since they last faced off in a match, but Mourinho said the on-pitch action at Old Trafford will be more important than what happens on the touchline.
Asked whether the presence of Guardiola in the opposition dug-out presented a particular problem, Mourinho told journalists at United’s Aon Training Complex: “Just the players.”
Mourinho emphasised the need for “emotional control” in the match, which will see United and City attempt to end each other’s perfect starts to the Premier League season.
When he was told the match was being cast as a rematch between himself and Guardiola, he replied: “That’s no problem.”
“They are a very good team,” he added.
“They were a very good team last season, two, three, four seasons ago. Maybe since the new owners arrived at Man City, it’s a very good squad, it’s a very good team.
“They had very good managers. They have now a very good manager. They had always very good players. They bought some more very good players.
“So they are what they are since I return to England in 2013. They’re a title contender and we have to respect them that way, that’s for sure.”