Jose Mourinho insists he is “not a villain” or an “enemy” of Manchester United ahead of his return to Old Trafford on Wednesday as Tottenham head coach.
The Portuguese will come up against United for the first time since the club sacked him in December last year.
Mourinho expects a “nice reaction” from the United home support on his return, but says the Old Trafford crowd will “forget” him when the match kicks off.
He said: “I’m not a villain, I’m not an enemy but I am the coach that is trying to win against Manchester United. That’s the way I think they are going to look at me.
“(Ole Gunnar) Solskjaer is the guy that is trying to win the game for United fans so of course they are going to support him and not support me.
“I think a nice reaction is probably to me but then during the game the support will be for Solskjaer. They love their club, so they love Solskjaer.
“During the match I expect them to forget me and to support their team to get the result they want.”
‘I still have pictures of my time at United’
Mourinho left United with the club sixth in the Premier League, having taken 26 points from their opening 17 games.
But after 14 league games this season, United are currently ninth in the table with just 18 points – a situation that has put Solskjaer’s future in doubt.
Asked about United’s current form, Mourinho said: “This is a closed chapter for me. I left the club and took my time to process everything that happened and to prepare myself for the next challenge.
“Manchester United for me is in my book of experiences. A little bit like Mr (Nelson) Mandela was saying: ‘You never lose. You win or you learn.’
“At United I won and I learned. My time after I left was a good time for me. It is not for me to analyse United.
“Going back to Old Trafford is going back to a place where I was happy. You can go to my office upstairs, I still have a couple of pictures of my time at United.”
Mourinho ‘trusts’ contract rebels
Mourinho has made a perfect start to life as Tottenham boss winning his first three games in charge but questions still surround the future of some of his key players.
The contracts of midfielder Christian Eriksen, and defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen finish at the end of the season, with reports claiming this week Eriksen has refused to sign a new deal.
Mourinho said: “I’m not going to discuss these individual things. If I tell you that I didn’t speak with Mr [Daniel] Levy about Eriksen, Alderweireld and Vertonghen, I would be lying. So, yes I’m speaking with Mr Levy about it.
“At the same time, I speak also with the players, with all of them. We speak and try to understand every detail but it’s not something I’m going to discuss.
“The important thing, really, is [they are] great professionals, big relationship with Tottenham, amazing understanding of what the club is and what we need from them.
“So, all three ready to play, all three ready to forget the contractual situation.
“And that’s the most important thing now because we’re in three competitions. And these boys are great players and Tottenham people. I trust them.”
Reporter’s notebook: Mourinho offers hand of friendship
Analysis from Sky Sports News’ Aidan Magee…
“Jose Mourinho resisted the chance to survey the wreckage of Manchester United’s decline since his sacking last year – and instead offered the hand of friendship to his former club.
“The Tottenham head coach looks reinvigorated since beginning his fourth spell in the Premier League a fortnight ago, and that is in stark contrast to the isolated figure he cut as his Old Trafford tenure drew to a close 12 months ago.
“He arrived for his news conference half an hour early. If he can catch the United defence off guard on Wednesday night in the way he did the assembled media at Spurs’ Enfield training ground, his side will take a significant step towards recording a second successive win at Old Trafford.
“Those expecting Mourinho to dissect the reign of his successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were left disappointed.
“The 56-year-old maintained his relaxed demeanour in front of journalists on Tuesday morning, but surely knows he can push Solskjaer closer to the exit door.
“When reflecting on his spell at Old Trafford, he quoted Nelson Mandela by saying “You win, or you learn.”
“On Wednesday, he’ll gladly take the former.”
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