Anfield atmosphere motivates Manchester United – Jose Mourinho

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MANCHESTER — Jose Mourinho insists there is nothing Liverpool fans can do to make Anfield intimidating for his Manchester United players this weekend.

Phil Neville said this week that a trip to Anfield is the “ultimate test” for a United player while Mikael Silvestre warned the current squad to prepare for “hell.”

Mourinho, though, insists his players will “enjoy” whatever the 55,000 Liverpool fans can throw at them.

He told a news conference on Friday: “You know this is quite funny for me because I think when people speak about big atmospheres, it looks like we don’t like, it looks like it’s a problem for us to go to a certain place and to face a big atmosphere — this is what we want.

“I am surprised that you speak about that in a negative way, I am even more surprised when I hear former, big players speak about atmospheres like something sinister, something that worries.

“It motivates us, it is something that we want, it is something that if we could have every match we would have every match.

“You know, when Barcelona played against Las Palmas with an empty stadium, do you think the players were happy with that? Do you think Las Palmas players wouldn’t prefer to play with Nou Camp full of people and a great atmosphere?

“We are speaking about Old Trafford, in this case Anfield like it’s a big problem. it’s a satisfaction, that’s what we want

“I never see a player complain ‘oh, this atmosphere was very strong’ — we complain when the atmosphere is flat.

“When we play at home and we don’t see big enthusiasm in the people, we complain.

“So we go to where we want to go, we go to play against a big team with a big tradition in an amazing stadium with great tradition.

“We know that the fans have huge animosity against Manchester United historically, but this is what we want so we are very happy to have one more opportunity in our careers to play in this beautiful conditions. It’s beautiful to play at Anfield. Beautiful.”

Romelu Lukaku is set to play a role for Manchester United against Liverpool.

Mourinho confirmed he will be without Michael Carrick for the game but Romelu Lukaku is expected to start after shaking off an ankle injury.

Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba are set to miss out with knee and hamstring injuries, respectively.

Mourinho was accused of negative tactics following a 0-0 draw at Anfield last season and the United manager joked he would adopt a different approach this time.

He said: “I play with one defender and nine strikers, don’t worry about it, we play with one guy behind and then we go with a new system and we play with nine strikers, don’t worry about it.”

United are looking to maintain their impressive start to the season and keep pace at the top of the table with Manchester City, who face Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Mourinho added: “It’s just one more match, could be the first, could be the eighth or ninth or the last one.

“Probably, if it was the last, maybe it would decide something important but October for me is just another match.

“I understand the tradition, the emotions around the supporters but I look at it in a professional way.

“What I try to tell my players from the beginning of the season is every match is important, there are no easy matches, there are no matches you prepare more carefully than others, so if I try this mentality I am not going to say this match is more important than others.”

Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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