Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has made a thinly-veiled dig at Jurgen Klopp for treating the FA Cup with a lack of respect – and has vowed to take the competition seriously.
Klopp’s Liverpool were knocked out of the competition after his much-changed young side crashed out 2-1 at home to Championship side Wolves in the fourth round.
United face Blackburn on Sunday in the fifth round and despite their busy schedule, Mourinho has promised to name a strong side.
Although not naming names, Mourinho said maybe some ‘foreign bosses don’t understand the importance of the competition’.
“Maybe we don’t have as many managers in England with that culture as we should,” said Mourinho.
“Maybe we foreign managers, not everybody studies and understands the culture of this country. It’s because of attitude. Because you think it’s easy – and it’s not easy.
“With Chelsea, I lost against a League One or League Two team, but I never threw it away. We lost because we lost. So I try always to go serious. I like Wembley, I like the FA Cup, so I have to try to get the second one.”
Fresh from comprehensively winning the first leg of their Europa League last-32 clash with St Etienne, United turn their attention to the only major trophy they have won since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
Mourinho’s side travel to Ewood Park looking to reach the quarter-finals, although it would be tempting to rest players given a return leg in France and EFL Cup final against Southampton follows this week.
The Portuguese will make changes on Sunday but promised to respect the FA Cup, having been burned in the fifth round against Newcastle 12 years ago.
With John Terry suspended, Mourinho chose to leave out Petr Cech, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele, among others, with the Champions League trip to Barcelona in mind – and subsequently lost 1-0 at St James’ Park.
“Yes, I threw it away,” the United manager said. “In the same week was Champions League against Barcelona and was the cup final against Liverpool and in the middle of it we had FA Cup against Newcastle and I threw it away, I gambled too much.
“I focused too much on Barcelona and Liverpool. It was good because we beat Barcelona and won the final against Liverpool. So it was good. But the feeling that I threw it away was not good.
“So I don’t throw it away. If I lose, I lose because the opponent was better or because we didn’t play well but I am not going to throw it away.
“We go to Blackburn with that respect. We played already Reading and Wigan from the Championship so the level is not new for us. Plus, it’s one thing at Old Trafford but another thing when you go away.
“So I go serious. Am I going to repeat this team (against St Etienne)? No. I’m going to change a few players obviously.
“But I’m going with a good team and I respect the competition a lot. Man United demands that you go serious to every game.”
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The FA Cup holders will assess Henrikh Mkhitaryan ahead of the match after missing the St Etienne clash through illness.
Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick were also absent on Thursday due to minor muscular issues.
“I want them to be fit, I want them to be ready,” Mourinho said. “Even on Thursday, if they were, they would be involved.
“I am not sure they will be ready because the game is in two days but let’s see.”