Tottenham will not be drawn into any mind games with “colourful character” Jose Mourinho ahead of Sunday’s match at Old Trafford, according to Jan Vertonghen.
A win would put Tottenham nine points clear of United and further damage Mourinho’s hopes of the title, or even a top-four finish, in his first season in Manchester.
The outspoken Portuguese is renowned for playing mind games before big matches, and he has previous described Vertonghen as “a disgrace” and “a cheat” after the Belgian clashed with Chelsea’s Fernando Torres in 2013, when Mourinho managed the Blues.
The Spurs defender, who is expected to start alongside his international teammate Toby Alderweireld for the first time in two months, shrugged off suggestions Mourinho could have an effect on Spurs.
“He is a good manager … he says things in the media but it doesn’t really affect us. It’s part of the job and he plays it the way he wants to,” Vertonghen said.
“He is a great coach first of all, done great things with different teams. He has shown he is a very good coach and a colourful character, but football needs that.”
Asked if he would play for Mourinho, Vertonghen said: “He’s not my manager so I’m not going to talk about this.”
Vertonghen thought he had scored his first goal for Spurs at Old Trafford in a remarkable 3-2 win in September 2013 — Spurs’ first victory at United in 23 years.
But the effort went down as Jonny Evans’ own goal after taking a deflection off the defender on the way in, something Vertonghen has not forgotten.
“They took it off me in the end!” he laughed. “But still I celebrated it as my goal.”
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