'A little wind and they fall': Mourinho's derby jibe at City
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Jose Mourinho has noted a weakness in the Manchester City team that has swatted aside all-comers in the English Premier League this season.
"If you ask me one thing that I don't like a lot, it's that they lose the balance very easily," the Manchester United manager said yesterday, two days before his team's top-of-the-table match against unbeaten leader City at Old Trafford.
Mourinho paused, then added: "A little bit of wind and they fall."
It was a rare jibe in what has been an amicable build-up to a match that has so much at stake, given that City is already eight points clear of second-place United after winning 14 of its 15 games. If City goes 11 points clear, the second half of the league campaign could be a procession for Pep Guardiola's side.
"They defend well, react well to the moment they lose the ball, have good dynamic in attack, have creative movements, have amazing players, a fantastic coach," Mourinho said in praise of City and Guardiola, his long-time managerial rival dating back to their time in Spain in charge of Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively.
The only other time Mourinho mentioned Guardiola in the pre-match news conference yesterday came when he was asked about the City coach wearing a yellow ribbon on his tops in recent weeks.
Guardiola has said the small badge is a gesture of support for imprisoned politicians Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, who remain incarcerated amid the row over Catalan independence. Guardiola was born in Catalonia and is revered in the region because of his links with Barcelona's football team, as both a player and coach.
Mourinho said Guardiola was within his rights as a "normal citizen" to show his political belief and ideology, but doubted if it should be tolerated by UEFA.
"I know Pep for many years. I think I know what Pep feels about his country," Mourinho said. "To have it in football ... I don't know the rules. If the rules allow us to do that, he is a free citizen to do it. But I am not sure if the rules allow us to make any political message on the pitch."
Asked if he would make a similar gesture, Mourinho said: "I don't think I will be allowed to do. That's just what I think."