Tottenham better than last season but Jose Mourinho insists Manchester City also improved
Jose Mourinho thinks his current Tottenham side is better than the one that beat Manchester City last season, but warned Pep Guardiola’s team is also stronger.
Mourinho’s men are on a three-match winning run in the league and are unbeaten in seven ahead of arguably their toughest test of the season against Pep Guardiola’s side, live on Sky Sports on Saturday.
Spurs beat City 2-0 in the same fixture in February last season, but Mourinho thinks both sides have significantly improved since then.
“We are a better team and Manchester City are too,” Mourinho, who is celebrating one year in charge of the club, said at his pre-match news conference.
“City did a £150m (transfer) market, they have had one more year of Pep, one more year of his players working with a fantastic coach.
“They probably knew they wouldn’t become champions (when the teams last met). Now they know they are in the fight and three points could take them into the top four or five.
“We are a better team, especially we are more confident. We have a different identity now.
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“Last season, we were trying to survive. This time, the team has a different profile. We are a better team with more solutions. Against City, we are in a better position, but they clearly want to be champions. And we want to win the next match – we want to win tomorrow.
Mourinho added: “Our opponents tomorrow they are winning the Premier League or almost winning the Premier League or fighting for the Premier League for more than 10 years and probably they didn’t reach the perfection and want more.
“We are just in the beginning so we are far from perfection, we are far from me being happy, we are not a perfect team. We are a better team than we were, we have the mentality of going into every match always positive and saying we can win that match – we have a long way to go.”
City boss Guardiola has just penned a new contract to remain at the Etihad Stadium for another two seasons after this one, and Mourinho insists that is a sure-fire sign the former Barcelona boss is delighted to remain in the Premier League.
“The only thing for sure is nobody put a gun to Pep’s head to sign the contract,” Mourinho said.
“He is happy to stay and do it and must have had conversations with powerful people at the club and he knows what he will have ahead of him for the future.
“He has motivation, he loves it there so if he does that it is because he is happy to do it, so I am happy for him.”
Jose: Name managers pressuring players into not playing for England?
Mourinho also called on England boss Gareth Southgate to name the managers pressurising their players to pull out of international duty – as he fully expects Raheem Sterling to start against his side.
Southgate hinted several times during the recent international break that some of his players faced pressure from their clubs to withdraw from his squad.
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While City forward Sterling withdrew from the squad with an injury niggle which Southgate would not go into detail on, Spurs striker Harry Kane played all-but 14 minutes of the two Nations League fixtures.
“I am okay with that,” Mourinho replied when asked about England skipper Kane playing 76 minutes in the game against Iceland.
“A national team match should never be a dead rubber. The only thing for me, the only problem for me, is should be the same for everybody, not just for some.
“I don’t want to spend much time on the national team stuff – Gareth Southgate, I read, supposedly told that some football club managers put pressure on their players not to play for the national team.
“And because of that he feels the need sometimes to call club managers to try and cool down the emotions and cool down difficult situations for him.
“I would like him to say who. I would like him to say which are the coaches who put pressure on the players not to go? And I would like him to say which are the coaches that he calls and speaks on the phone with them.”
While Mourinho concedes Southgate is in his right to call up any player, he hinted that Sterling missing the games was no coincidence Guardiola confirmed the forward returned to training on the eve of the Spurs clash.
“He has the right, he has the power to call the players he wants,” added Mourinho.
“He wants to win matches, especially after a defeat, the next match even being a dead rubber is an important match. I sympathise with that. And of course we all know Sterling will play tomorrow.
“When Eric Dier left the national team injured in the previous month, he didn’t play two matches for Tottenham. He didn’t play a Premier League match and a Europa League match.
“He needed a couple of weeks to recover and Raheem is going to play tomorrow. These are the little details I think Gareth should explain to us all.
“Apart from that, I totally support him in the fact that in the national team, in a country like England, the Three Lions on the shirt is always to be respected and he plays with the players he wants to play.”
Watch Tottenham vs Manchester City live on Sky Sports on Saturday; kick-off 5:30pm
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