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Exclusive Q&A: Mourinho on Wilkins, City and Lukaku

Jose Mourinho is in a focused mood ahead of the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium, where his United team will look to win three more important Premier League points this season.

We spoke to the manager at the Aon Training Complex on Friday afternoon for an exclusive interview, which began with a poignant tribute to the late Ray Wilkins…

First of all Jose, what are your thoughts on Ray Wilkins sadly passing away?
“Obviously it is sad news. I had some contact with Ray through his connection with Chelsea and I met him a few times and I always had a positive relationship with him, so obviously I feel sad. During this difficult process with him passing away, I managed to have contact with his family through his son, so I know exactly how they feel about their father and obviously I feel sorry.”

How will the football world remember Ray?
“Probably because of my age and because of my generation, I met Ray the player and then obviously he was a coach and a football man. He was a brilliant player in a great generation of very good English players and then he was a Chelsea man for many years, connected with the coaching staff and then as an opponent because I think the last time he was coaching was with Aston Villa, if I’m not wrong. I always had a positive relationship with him and finally as a pundit, I always felt he was an honest man. I could agree with him the majority of times – not always obviously, but I always looked at him as an honest man and that’s the most important thing.”

Early team news ahead of the derby article

The latest update on injuries and availability from Jose Mourinho before our trip to the Etihad Stadium.

Looking ahead to the game, what does a derby match mean to you?
“It’s always the same question and always the same answer. In the end, the points are the most important thing. In the end, it’s always a match of three points and not a match of seven, eight or nine points but there is also a little bit of the emotional difference in relation to other matches. But in my case, I always try to play every match with the same mentality and responsibility and not try to make a derby an El Clasico or whatever we used to call it in Portugal and Spain – a special match.”

How has the build-up been for you and the lads this week?
“It’s been a good week. I would say a normal week – no midweek match or Champions League for us, so more time to train. But a good normal week I would call it.”
These big games can be decided by the odd goal. What factors can be decisive in these games?
“The more I play big matches, the more I can relate to big matches, derbies, Clasicos, decisions, the more difficult it is for me to answer the question because sometimes you think this is the game you are expecting it to be and the game ends up being completely different, so honestly I don’t know.”

'I play every match with the same mentality'Video

How is the squad shaping up?
“Everybody coming back, but Sergio [Romero] is injured.”

Romelu Lukaku has won our Player of the Month award for March. How deserving is he of that?
“He deserves it, but others will deserve too. I’m not a big fan of Player of the Month and this kind of thing – I think it’s just a funny thing for the fans and it’s a good way for fans to be connected with the club via social media but I don’t make a big thing of it.”

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