Liverpool against Manchester United is no different to any other match between big rivals in Europe, according to Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho takes his side to Anfield on Monday for his first encounter with the Merseysiders since he took charge at Old Trafford in July.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said on Friday that the magnitude of the clash should not be overlooked, but Mourinho feels the rivalry is no greater than others he has experienced during his career.
He said: “I always like to play at Anfield. I won big matches and lost big matches. It’s not true that I’m always successful but I like to go there, I like the atmosphere and normally the characteristics of the matches.
“Being Man United manager obviously means something more, but for me it’s just a big match. It can be comparable to Inter-[AC] Milan, Real Madrid-Barcelona, maybe Porto-Benfica.
“The season for me is not about Anfield and Old Trafford in January. It’s about many matches, many points to lose, many targets.”
Mourinho has only managed one victory over Klopp in their past five meetings – a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund as Real Madrid coach back in the Champions League semi-finals in 2013 – but he would not be drawn on his assessment of the German’s work at Liverpool in the past year.
“I’ve not much to say,” was his response when asked for his view on Klopp’s work.
Asked whether Liverpool should be considered title contenders, he added: “You have to ask them. They’re a good team.”
The clubs issued a joint statement this week calling for supporters not to engage in derogatory chanting relating to the Munich air crash and the Hillsborough disaster, and Mourinho echoed that plea for respect.
“In football we have some of what you’d call ‘football tragedies’ – the big match you lost, the mistake of a player, and you can make fun of it in a positive way,” he said.
“But the human tragedy is much, much more serious and it’s the last thing that should be used on a football pitch. I would be really sad if, in such a big football match, that was a negative point.
“The fans should go there to enjoy it, support their team, create a bad atmosphere for the opposition but in the limits of safety and respect.”
Mourinho added that Wayne Rooney has looked good in training in recent days despite the disappointment of being dropped from the England starting line-up for the World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on Tuesday.
“England is not my problem,” said Mourinho. “He’s good, prepared, he’s training well, he’s positive.”
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