Jose Mourinho claimed he had never experienced support like that enjoyed by Manchester United after a 1-0 victory over local rivals Manchester City saw his side into the EFL Cup quarter-finals.
United came into the fixture on the back of a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Mourinho’s former club Chelsea on Sunday, with the Portuguese reportedly irked by opposite number Antonio Conte’s attempts to rally home fans at Stamford Bridge after the fourth goal had gone in.
Mourinho appeared in a better mood at Old Trafford on Wednesday, sharing a joke with City boss Pep Guardiola ahead of kick-off, responding to taunts with a cheeky wave and gesturing ‘4-0’ with his fingers after the final whistle..
But the events of last weekend were clearly not far from his mind when he spoke afterwards, heaping praise on United fans at the expense of supporters of his former clubs.
“It was a big defeat [at Chelsea], numbers that the history of this club doesn’t deserve,” he said. “Obviously when I am in a club my heart belongs to the fans and I felt deeply for them
“But the reality is that I never had people like these. We lost 4-0 and they were supportive.
“Today the stadium was full – not full of people, full of real support – and it looks like the love that people have for the club is bigger than bad results, bigger than three bad seasons.
“We must give something back and today, independent of the result – we could lose and I would have the same feelings for my players – my players gave absolutely everything in a difficult run of matches, so I think they deserve it.
“The players showed they really care with the fans.”
Juan Mata scored United’s winner against a much-changed City side nine minutes into the second half, booking their place in the last eight where they will take on West Ham.