No 'crazy kid' celebrations

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not scored in his last four league matches but is likely to get his chance after being rested in the Europa League game against Fenerbahce on Thursday.
Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not scored in his last four league matches but is likely to get his chance after being rested in the Europa League game against Fenerbahce on Thursday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mourinho promises to tone down emotions if United score, to show respect to Chelsea fans

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has vowed to contain his emotions on his return to Stamford Bridge, insisting that he will not "celebrate like a crazy kid" if Manchester United score.

The Portuguese will sit in the away dug-out at the ground for the first time in a Premier League match today as he looks to gain a vital win against Chelsea, where he enjoyed two successful spells as manager.

He clearly feels little emotion towards Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who fired him for the second time in December.

"He was never my friend," Mourinho said of the Russian billionaire who bought Chelsea in 2003 and appointed the Portuguese as manager for the first time one year later.

"We had always the relation of owner-manager, a very respectful relation."

But it is clear that the 53-year-old still has an affinity for the Chelsea fans, who never called for him to be sacked, even when the club were heading towards the relegation zone last season.

"I have for life, an amazing empathy with the supporters. The supporters didn't change their relationship with me because of last season and a couple of months of bad results," he said.

For that reason, Mourinho has already decided that he will tone down any celebrations if United are successful.

"If you ask me if my team score a goal am I going to celebrate like a crazy kid, no.

"I have the maturity to control the emotion. I have lots of respect," he said.

With United two points below Chelsea and five points off pre-weekend leaders Manchester City in seventh place, Mourinho says he will have more important matters on his mind.

"I'm more focused on the game. I try to prepare myself for the matches. What can I expect? I don't know," he said.

After a run of three straight defeats in mid-September, there are signs Mourinho's methods are beginning to bear fruit.

United have gone six games unbeaten and, after a creditable 0-0 draw at in-form Liverpool on Monday, they crushed Fenerbahce 4-1 at home on Thursday to invigorate their Europa League campaign.

Rested for the European fixture, Zlatan Ibrahimovic - who has not scored in his last four league matches - Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford are all likely to return for the trip to Stamford Bridge.

It leaves Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and captain Wayne Rooney sweating over their places, while Mourinho must also choose between Daley Blind and the fit-again Luke Shaw at left-back.

Like United, Chelsea have also reacted positively to their recent setbacks.

Antonio Conte's side lost back-to-back games, against Liverpool and Arsenal last month, but have since beaten Hull City 2-0 and won 3-0 at home to champions Leicester City.

The Italian has confirmed he will persist with the 3-4-3 system he has been using since the second half of the 0-3 loss at Arsenal.

Captain John Terry could return after more than a month out with an ankle injury, but Cesc Fabregas (thigh) and Branislav Ivanovic, who has a minor muscle injury, are ruled out of the clash.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'No 'crazy kid' celebrations'. Print Edition | Subscribe