Manchester – Jose Mourinho has claimed Liverpool are “the lucky ones” as they bid to end a wait of nearly three decades to win the English league title.
Mourinho and his Manchester United side visit Anfield on Sunday with Liverpool 16 points ahead of their bitter rivals.
But Mourinho points to perceived good fortune enjoyed by Liverpool in recent victories over Everton, Bournemouth and Napoli as evidence they have lady luck on their side as they challenge for their first championship since 1990.
“Of course, they are very confident about themselves,” Mourinho told reporters. “They are top of the league, they have this feeling of – I know that feeling well – the feeling of the lucky ones where everything goes in your direction.
“They know how they beat Everton, they know that the last match, the opening goal was offside, and they know that against Napoli in the last seconds they could be out.
“They have this feeling that I also had when my teams were top of the league and it looks like everything goes in your direction.”
Klopp’s side certainly benefitted from a stroke of luck when a defensive error gifted them a stoppage-time victory in the Merseyside derby, although a clearly offside opening goal by Mohamed Salah at Bournemouth was only the first of four scored by the rampant Reds.
And, while the midweek victory over Napoli was only confirmed when Alisson made a spectacular late save, the success carried last season’s Champions League runners-up through to the last 16 and has further raised the mood of optimism around Anfield.
Not that Mourinho expects his rivals to take inconsistent United lightly when they meet.
“I think they are obviously very, very confident. But I think they are not stupid,” he said.
“They also know that we have our weaknesses, our strengths, and I think they will respect our strengths. I think if they don’t do that I will be happy with that.
“They know that they need every point if they want to be champions so I think they are professionals and being professional is respecting Manchester United. They know that we can go there and win.”
Mourinho, meanwhile, claims he does not yet know if he will have money to spend in the January transfer window which opens in barely two weeks’ time.
Unsourced reports have claimed repeatedly in recent months that the United manager has been frustrated at the lack of backing he has received from his club’s owners in the transfer market.
Last January, the window proved a busy one for Mourinho, as he completed the signing of Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez.
And, although that particular transfer has yet to prove a success, the Portuguese manager is clearly keen to do some more business next month.
“I don’t know. I don’t know if we are going to have new players – I would like to – but I don’t know if it is possible or not,” he said.
“It depends on the club. I don’t know and, honestly, I’m focused on my job of playing Liverpool and next week playing Cardiff.”
Mourinho insisted he is not concerned by the obvious lack of progress being made by his club in his two and a half years in charge.
“I’m not frustrated because my work is to demand from players that they give everything they have and what I demand – I only demand things that I can give myself,” he said.
“So what I ask the players to do – that’s what I do. You have to work hard, you have to work on your limits. It’s my job.”