Solskjaer plays down Mourinho mind games and responds to Man United criticism over penalty decisions

Jose Mourinho played mind games in his response to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last week and Manchester United entertain Tottenham on Sunday. Let’s not pretend he didn’t know the game was just around the corner.

After Brighton hit the woodwork five times in their 3-2 defeat to United last Saturday, Solskjaer jokingly remarked at full-time (via GOAL): “You have to be happy Jose isn’t here to measure the goalposts, it might have been a smaller goal!”

The next day, Mourinho was visibly unhappy with Solskjaer’s light-hearted comments and mischievously suggested United were over-reliant on penalties (via Daily Mail): “I think for him (Solskjaer) the dimension of the goalposts are not important. For him what is important is the dimensions of the 18-yard box. He’d never accept to play with a 17-yard box, I think he would prefer a 22-yard box.”

Er, I can’t help but feel that tongue-in-cheek response from Mourinho is hypocritical and most people reading this will understand exactly what I mean by that. He’s a nuisance, always deadpan when speaking and searching for something to complain about.

It won’t surprise you that this is not the first time Mourinho made a remark about United’s penalties having previously laid a dig at chief pen goalscorer Bruno Fernandes. The Spurs manager told Portuguese publication Record: “Bruno came in, was fit, played very well, improved the United team and also proved to be a great penalty taker, one of the best in the world, because he had about 20 to score.”

But Solskjaer kept it running with another dig in midweek when he referred to Spurs being given a bye to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, but today he spoke about having respect for the former United boss.

“We are in strange times at the moment and sometimes you’ve got to have a bit of fun as well,” Solskjaer told the press, as per Manchester Evening News. “It was a couple of innocent comments. For me, Jose’s a very charismatic coach and manager and I’ve enjoyed talking to him, I’ve enjoyed watching him. He’s a winner.

“But I’m not one of these that really go into all these mind games. I’ve got ultimate respect for him as a coach and, of course, his results and everything he has given football.”

Solskjaer laughed off Mourinho’s penalty comments: “No, the rules are as they are in football, aren’t they? I didn’t really think more about that one.

“It’s just more for you and the media, I think it’s important that we have a bit of entertainment as well and Jose has throughout the years given us some fantastic moments in football, both in his press conferences and on the pitch.

“But, as a striker, I don’t mind how big the box was. When I got there, it was just a sticker on goal.”

Read more: Solskjaer regrets stating Manchester United could ‘exploit’ transfer market

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