Man Utd now ‘STRONGER’

MOUR­INHO UN­FAZED BY IN­JURIES AS TEAM PRE­PARES FOR BIG LIVER­POOL TEST

The Nation - - SPORT -

JOSE MOUR­INHO says his Manch­ester United team are bet­ter than they were last year, play­ing down in­jury con­cerns as he pre­pares for a block­buster Premier League clash against Liver­pool.

High-fly­ing United travel to face their fierce ri­vals at An­field to­mor­row, look­ing to main­tain a rich vein of form that leaves them trail­ing Manch­ester City only on goal dif­fer­ence at the top of the ta­ble.

Mour­inho had a mixed first sea­son at Old Traf­ford, fin­ish­ing a dis­ap­point­ing sixth in the League but win­ning the Europa League and League Cup.

But big-money sum­mer sign­ings Romelu Lukaku and Ne­manja Matic have im­pressed in the early weeks of the sea­son, en­abling United to keep pace with free-scor­ing City.

“I think we are a bet­ter team [than we were],” Mour­inho told Sky Sports. “You can say, like some peo­ple do, we have not played one of the top five teams but last sea­son we did not beat West Ham at home, last sea­son we did not beat Ever­ton at home or Southamp­ton away.

“I think it would be un­fair to say [Romelu] Lukaku and [Ne­manja] Matic did not make an im­pact. We have to ad­mit that and give them what they de­serve.

“But also the team give Matic and Lukaku the con­di­tions to ar­rive the way they have.

“Glob­ally we are a bet­ter team. Does that mean we are go­ing to be as suc­cess­ful as last sea­son, win­ning two ti­tles? I don’t know. But we are bet­ter.”

Mour­inho, al­ready with­out France mid­fielder Paul Pogba, shrugged off the loss of mus­cu­lar mid­fielder Marouane Fel­laini, who suf­fered a knee in­jury while on in­ter­na­tional duty for Bel­gium.

Asked about the Fel­laini in­jury, Mour­inho told Sky Sports: “No blow, no prob­lem. We don’t cry with in­juries. We may cry with the process that leads to the in­juries but we don’t cry with the in­juries. We just trust the play­ers that are go­ing to play.”

United have also had con­cerns over the fit­ness of striker Lukaku, who has net­ted 11 times since his move from Ever­ton, but he came off the bench and scored in Bel­gium’s 4-0 win over Cyprus on Tues­day.

Mour­inho said he was rel­ish­ing the clash with Jur­gen Klopp’s Liver­pool, who have strug­gled in re­cent weeks and are sev­enth in the ta­ble and have in­jury prob­lems of their own, with for­ward Sa­dio Mane out for up to six weeks with a ham­string in­jury.

The Por­tuguese man­ager said he was rel­ish­ing the trip to An­field, where United played out a 0-0 draw last sea­son.

“I like to play against the best teams, I like to play against the best clubs and I like to play at the best sta­di­ums – the sta­di­ums with more his­tory,” said Mour­inho.

“At An­field I’ve had great mo­ments and I’ve had bad mo­ments,” he added. “They have had hap­pi­ness against me, they have had very sad mo­ments against me.

“[Now] if they re­spect me as much as I re­spect them, we are go­ing to have an­other one of those matches.”

Manch­ester United have con­cerns over the fit­ness of striker Romelu Lukaku.

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