Jose Mourinho confirmed Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini is available to return against Liverpool on Saturday.
Fellaini has been beset by medial knee ligament problems in the last five months and has only managed one club start during that period. The 30-year-old underwent surgery last month and was expected to return in late March but Mourinho revealed he is back for the visit of Liverpool.
“He was fully fit for a couple of weeks,” Mourinho said when asked about Eric Bailly. “He’s okay, the only one that is back to the team is Fellaini,” Mourinho said.
Liverpool and United are English football’s most successful clubs and the country’s most intense rivals. However, Mourinho played down the tribalism.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 10, 2018
“I still don’t know because in my mentality every match is the same and I’m not very good on that culture of this rivalry is special, that match is special,” Mourinho added. “I’ve never been very good at it, I never looked to AC Milan has the biggest rival, I never looked to Atletico Madrid as the enemy, I never look to Spurs or Arsenal as the big rival.
“For me, is just a big match two historical clubs not just in England but the world and in this moment important points for top four, important points for second, but I still don’t look to some matches as special opponents, it’s just a big match because we are speaking about two big clubs.
“We have three matches now; Liverpool, Sevilla and Brighton. If you ask me if I could choose one to be the most important I can’t choose, so for me the most important one is Liverpool because is the next but the other two are knockout. Means we are in the Champions League quarter-final or no, means we go to a Wembley semi-final or no.
“I want to win of course, is a big match, big opponent, is the team just behind us, is a team that is already in the Champions League last eight so of course is a big match but I’m not very good on that rivalry, every opponent is a rival.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has described the tie as “the biggest game I can imagine”.
The Reds go into the match at Old Trafford two points behind United, knowing a victory will mean they climb above Jose Mourinho’s team into second.
However, the Anfield side are 18 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Klopp. “We need to be at 100% – if not even a few more.”
While the fixture is unlikely to directly impact on the title race, it does still carry huge historical importance for supporters of English football’s two most successful clubs.
Both are also still involved in the Champions League, with United hoping to progress past Sevilla next week to join Liverpool in the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Manchester United defeated Liverpool 2-1