Jose Mourinho has taunted Manchester City ahead of the “the game of the season”.
Manchester United boss Mourinho enters Thursday’s derby at the Etihad just a point behind the Blues with six games to go, but he insists the hosts are massive favourites to beat his men to a top four finish “because they don’t have to play in Europe like we do.”
The meeting with the neighbours is the first of a potential nine matches Europa League semi-finalists United could have to squeeze in over the next month, whereas City — eliminated from the Champions League at the last-16 stage — have just six fixtures left.
And Mourinho turned up the heat on opposite number Pep Guardiola when he said: “They play now one game a week until the end of the season while we have the (Europa League) semi-finals which are very important for us.
“Obviously to play one match per week brings teams and players to other levels, so it’s more difficult for us but we are going to try.”
Mourinho also claimed that no matter what his team do between now and the end of the season, they will be stronger for the experience of their Europa League run, which sees them face Spain’s Celta Vigo over two legs to decide who reaches the May 24 final.
And last summer’s signing, who has never spent more than three years in any managerial role, hinted he wants to remain in charge at Old Trafford long term, when he said: “It doesn’t matter what happens in terms of titles we win or don’t win.
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“I always feel that the season is very important for me, the players and the club.
“I would say this can be the first season of the next five or six or seven. It can be the first season of better years.
“And the reality is even in the first season of better years we won already [the Community Shield and EFL Cup], and if we manage to win the Europa League and in August to play the European Super Cup against the Champions League winner, it will be magnificent.”