Football

Mourinho takes dig at Chelsea's style

United manager says counter-attacking approach is not what he was told to deliver when he was Blues' boss

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is not surprised with Chelsea's success this season - only their style of play.

Mourinho's old club enjoy a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League table, just one season after finishing 10th.

Mourinho led the Blues to the title during the 2014-15 campaign, but was sacked less than seven months later with the team just a point above the relegation zone.

The Portuguese's first trip to Stamford Bridge as United manager ended in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Antonio Conte's men in October.

United return to London for tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) FA Cup quarter-final, ahead of which Mourinho appeared to take a dig at Chelsea's tactical approach.

"I'm not surprised (by Chelsea's success). I'm surprised with the way they play," Mourinho told BBC's Football Focus.

"I'm surprised because I thought they (owner Roman Abramovich and the club) were demanding a different kind of football.

"I think they are very good defensively and I think they have fantastic players to be a counter-attack team and to kill opponents with three or four players."

JOINT-BEST 
DEFENSIVE RECORD

Chelsea, along with Tottenham, have the joint-best defensive record in the league - conceding just 20 goals in 27 games - but the Blues also have the secondmost potent attack, with their 57 goals just one short of Liverpool's total.

That tally was helped by the four times they scored against United in October, a game that ended with Mourinho taking exception to the way Conte geed up the crowd when the Blues were easing to victory.

But Mourinho insisted neither that incident nor the memory of his sacking from the club over a year ago will give him any extra motivation tomorrow morning.

"I'm not looking for revenge," he said. "I'm not looking for anything wrong or bad.

"If you say (going back to Chelsea is) something special, maybe (it is) special to have (club official) Gary Staker in the tunnel before and after the match, a close, super friend.

"Another thing is to go to Spurs - I don't even know the name of the gentleman that is in the tunnel.

"If it's different (playing Chelsea), it's different in a positive way."

United, who won the League Cup last month, are chasing a trophy treble.

They head to Stamford Bridge on the back of a 1-1 draw against Russian side Rostov in the last 16 of the Europa League.

And Mourinho is adamant United will not relent in their pursuit of more silverware.

He said: "We are happy with the trophy, a trophy is always important.

"The reality is that many other teams in England are going to finish the season without a trophy and we have one and a half, the (League) Cup and the Community Shield.

"That's good, but I would lie if I say I think it is enough for us."

Mourinho goes into the last-eight tie without top goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who starts a three-match ban following his elbow on Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings. - PA SPORT

FA CupManchester UnitedJose Mourinho