Saturday, February 27, 2021

´Amazing´ Liverpool still in the title race, says Spurs boss Mourinho

SoccerNews in English Premier League 27 Jan 2021

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Jose Mourinho believes Liverpool are still more than capable of winning the Premier League this season. 

Jurgen Klopp’s reigning champions are on a five-game winless streak in the top flight and were dumped out of the FA Cup by Manchester United on Sunday. 

They travel to top-four rivals Spurs on Thursday having won just one of their last eight away Premier League games, Klopp’s men netting as many goals in that one win – 7-0 against Crystal Palace – as they have managed in the other games combined.

Mourinho – who has lost his last three meetings with Liverpool, his longest losing run against an opponent in his top-flight managerial league career – dismissed suggestions the Reds are a spent force, pointing to the loss of Virgil van Dijk to injury as justification for their poor form. 

“I think Liverpool since that season when they lost with an incredible number of points [2018-19 when they finished second to Manchester City with 97 points], they have been phenomenal,” he said.

“They win the Champions League, they win the league. Come on. The team is the same or better. The coach is the same or better, because a coach is a job where experience helps you. For me, a coach with one more year is better. 

“They’ve got some very good players. They lost a fundamental player [Van Dijk]. We can say what we want, we can try to hide things, but there are some players that are special. 

“Even sometimes the defensive process has a relation to an attacking player and the attacking process sometimes has a relation to a defensive player. 

“A team very stable defensively is a team with much better conditions to attack. They lost Van Dijk, so if they had one or two results not the best, didn’t score as many goals, it’s normal that they went into a phase of less confidence. But for me, they are the same. Nothing changed.”

Asked if Liverpool needed to retain the title to be considered a truly great team, Mourinho said the Merseyside club had nothing to prove.

“A champion is champion,” he added. “You win the title, you are the champion. Period. 

“There are leagues where the champion is decided in pre-season. Where you know who is going to win that league. This is not the Premier League.

“Only one team is going to be champion, only four teams are going to be top four, only two more are going to the Europa League. But you cannot say other people fail. This is the beauty of the Premier League. 

“So for me, Liverpool is an amazing team and they still can win the Premier League. Of course they can.”

Thursday’s game comes six weeks since Mourinho and Klopp exchanged terse words after Liverpool’s last-gasp 2-1 win over Spurs at Anfield.

But while the Portuguese feels his touchline demeanour has mellowed, he believes he is punished more harshly than other managers when he steps out of line. 

“In my case, I felt an evolution,” he said. “I felt an evolution on emotional control. I felt calmer, I am better, I can read the game. 

“I’m even happy for the assistants to go to the touchline. I felt that I had to change my behaviour, which ‘m really, really happy with. I cannot speak for other guys. 

“What I can speak about is when I didn’t behave well, I paid the price in two ways. One was to see matches on TV. And another was big money fines. And I feel that some of the other guys, it doesn’t happen the same. 

“But, if the referee and the fourth official are there to do their job, I just hope they do their job and act the way they have to act.”

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