Jose Mourinho has emphasised that losing the title to Manchester City would not be the end of the world.
Pep Guardiola’s side have the chance to confirm their status as Premier League champions with a win against Man United at the Ethiad.
There will be extra pressure on them to deliver a performance following their humiliation at the hands of Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference, Mourinho once again used his own past successes to demonstrate that, actually, the world would indeed keep spinning if United were to lose the title to City.
“Look, I won the title (with Chelsea) against Manchester United,” he said.
“We beat Manchester United 3-0 and we won the title at Stamford Bridge in 2005-06, precisely. It was not the end of the world, Manchester United didn’t finish. It’s just football.
“The only thing I can say is that we want to win, we don’t want to offer them the game. We want to go there, and we want to compete, and win the match if possible. That’s the only thing I can say.
“It’s normal that you want to delay the champions to (become) champions. We would like to beat them, we would like Spurs to beat them next week, we would like them to be champions as late as possible. I think Chelsea would like the same because they are still the champions, so I think they would like to be the champions until late April or the beginning of May.
“It’s normal in football but in this case obviously they are going to be champions because it’s is a very significant difference.”
Mourinho, like usual, is not necessarily wrong but misses the point. For fans, the people who make this game tick, losing to City will not be the end of the world but it will feel that way.
But in a strange way, this may not be the worst thing. Defeat, especially a bad one, would underline the difference between the two teams this year, and hopefully spell it out to players – and Mourinho – that something needs to change on both a tactical and psychological level next year.
Players, some of whom Mourinho has rightly called out for not consistently having the right attitude this season, will look back at next season and think they’ll never, ever want to experience that feeling again. And perhaps, in similar fashion to the reaction to that hellish afternoon in Sunderland six years ago, that will count for something in the long run.