Tottenham vs Liverpool: Jose Mourinho explains his emotional ‘evolution’ ahead of Jurgen Klopp reunion

Dan Kilpatrick
·4-min read
 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho says he has learned to control his emotions on the touchline following his criticism of Jurgen Klopp in last month's defeat at Liverpool and urged the officials "do their job" in Thursday's reverse fixture.

Mourinho was incensed by Klopp's antics and what he perceived as double standards after Liverpool's last-gasp win on December 16, saying: "If I behaved the same way on the touchline like he does, then I have no chance of staying there. I’m out a minute after."

Mourinho was once renowned for his animation on the sidelines but accepts he often crossed the line – and was rightly punished. The day after his 58th birthday, the Portuguese believes he has mellowed with age but suggested again that other managers are not reprimanded in the same way he was.

"In my case, I felt an evolution," Mourinho said when asked if he expected different behaviour from Klopp in tomorrow's game.

"I felt an evolution on the emotional control. I felt an evolution of, 'the calmer I am, the better I can read the game'. And I’m even happy that my assistants, they look to the touchline sometimes for communication and I stay in a privileged position [in my seat].

Klopp and Mourinho resume their rivalry on ThursdayTottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images
Klopp and Mourinho resume their rivalry on ThursdayTottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

"And I felt that I had to change my behaviour, which I’m really really happy with. That’s my personal case. I cannot speak for other guys.

"What I can say, is when I didn’t behave well I paid the price. And I paid the price in two ways: one was to see matches on TV in the dressing room and another price was big-money fines and I feel that, for some of the other guys, it doesn’t happen the same.

"It doesn’t happen the same with them. But, if the referee and the fourth official are there to do that job, I just hope they do that job and act the way they have to act."

Following last month's match, Mourinho also revealed he had told Klopp at full-time that "the best team lost" as he brooded on Roberto Firmino's stoppage-time winner.

"I don’t know what was said, honestly," laughed the Spurs manager.

"I know what I felt and I felt that we were very, very, very close to winning, very close to win. And of course we lost in an individual duel on a corner, minute 90 or 91. I just felt that we were very, very close to win. And when you finish a game like that, the feeling of course is not the best but that’s football."

Liverpool go into the game on a run of five League games without a win, scoring just once, since the 7-0 demolition of Crystal Palace and on the back of Sunday's defeat at rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round.

Mourinho suggested the loss of talisman Virgil van Dijk, who suffered an ACL injury in October, has impacted Liverpool's attacking and dismissed suggestions they had to retain their title to prove themselves.

"No – a champion is a champion," said Mourinho, who won back-to-back titles in his first spell with Chelsea. "You win the title and you are champion. Period.

"There are leagues where the champion is decided in pre-season. In pre-season there are countries where you know who is going to win that league.

The Premier League is not like that at all and I think that’s a great thing. For me, Liverpool is an amazing team and they can still win the Premier League.

“Come on… I think Liverpool since that championship they lost – I say lost but it should be that they didn’t win with an incredible number of points – since that moment they have been phenomenal.

"They lost the Champions League final, were phenomenal. Then the next season they won the Champions League, then they win the league. Come on.

Van Dijk is set to miss the rest of the seasonAP
Van Dijk is set to miss the rest of the seasonAP

"The team is the same or better. The coach is the same or better. Because as a coach, it’s a job where experience helps you to be better. Because, for me, a coach with one more year is better than previously.

"They've got some very good players. They lost a fundamental player, we can say what we want, we can try to hide things, but some players are special and they are impossible to replace. So even sometimes the defensive process has a relation with losing an attacking player.

"The attacking process also is related to a defensive player that you have lost. It can look like a contradiction but is not a contradiction. But it is not a contradiction.

"A team very stable defensively is a team with much better conditions to attack and vice versa. They lost Van Dijk. It’s very, very important for them."

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