Spurs unfazed by mind games

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur will not be intimidated by Jose Mourinho's "colourful character" and his mind games, insists defender Jan Vertonghen.

Spurs travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in the English Premier League tomorrow.

A win would put fifth-place Tottenham nine points clear of Mourinho's men, which may well dash United's hopes of winning the league title or even a top-four finish.

Mourinho, who is famous for playing mind games with his opposition managers before big matches, had previously said that Vertonghen was "a disgrace" and "a cheat".

The Portuguese accused Vertonghen of play-acting to get Chelsea's Fernando Torres sent off in 2013, when he was in charge of the Blues.

The Belgium international, however, dismissed the possibility that Tottenham players would be affected by coming up against Mourinho.

"He is a good manager... he says things in the media but it doesn't really affect us. It's part of the job and he plays it the way he wants to," he told The Mirror.

"He is a great coach first of all, done great things with different teams. He has shown he is a very good coach and a colourful character, but football needs that."

Asked if he would one day find himself playing for a Mourinho team, Vertonghen added: "Would I want to play for him? He's not my manager so I'm not going to talk about this."

Spurs head to United having won their last two matches in all competitions - a 3-1 Champions League over CSKA Moscow in midweek and a 5-0 thrashing of Swansea last weekend.

United will be buoyed by their 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk on Thursday in the Europa League which sent them through to the last 32 of the competition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs unfazed by mind games'. Print Edition | Subscribe