Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes he may have to “cry a little bit more” to safeguard his players, in a thinly veiled jibe at rivals Manchester City.
Mourinho was unhappy at the rough treatment dished out to Alexis Sanchez on his Old Trafford debut last weekend as United saw off Huddersfield Town 2-0.
City boss Guardiola has repeatedly called for more protection for his players following a slew of dangerous challenges. The most serious challenge, by Cardiff’s Joe Bennett on Leroy Sane, has sidelined the German for six weeks with ankle ligament damage.
Indeed, City have written to the body in charge of professional referees to raise their concerns and call for retrospective action when referees don’t dish out red cards when warranted.
“Maybe his manager needs to cry a little bit more,” said Mourinho on the punishment taken by Sanchez.
“I always liked English football. I try to feel English football has some cultural thing with tradition and there are some qualities I really like in the game but maybe I have to cry a little bit and protect my players.
“Really you can see the way Alexis was ‘welcomed’ by the opponent! You are right he is a tough boy, a pure guy who can cope with that. He coped at Yeovil too with some bad tackles like against Huddersfield.”
However, Mourinho insisted the more talented players on show at United or City should not get special treatment.
“I don’t like the word ‘protect’ the players because it looks like they have to protect only the top players but everybody on the pitch is the same.
“The referee cannot only look at the players and say ‘this guy is a talented one I have to protect him,’ no he has to do it equally. They know the rules and if the card has to come then I am sure the refs will be in control of it.”
– ‘Give me an award’ –
Despite his protests in press conferences, Mourinho has cut a much more placid figure on the touchline this season and believes his good behaviour should be rewarded with a new prize.
“I am not going from the bad one to the perfect one, no way. But I try and I make an effort and I’m happy with the way things are going,” said Mourinho.
“I am fully committed to win the award this season for the best behaved manager on the touchline,” said Mourinho.
“There are so many awards: performance of the week, manager of the month, they should give the guy that behaves better on the touchline, and they should give the vote to the fourth official, and I am pretty sure I would win! I am serious.”
Sanchez’s arrival continued Mourinho’s overhaul of the United squad since taking charge 18 months ago, and he has no intention of losing goalkeeper David de Gea despite persistent interest from Real Madrid.
“Do you think a club that is trying to attract the best players is the club that is open to sell the best players? It makes no sense,” he added.
“If you want to go to that level you have to attract the best players like we did with Alexis, (Nemanja) Matic and (Paul) Pogba and so on and don’t let our best players to go.”