Jose Mourinho has accused Manchester City’s players of going down very easily, with the Manchester United boss claiming it only takes a “little bit of wind” to knock them over.
The 175th Manchester derby is comfortably the biggest match of the Premier League season so far as second-place United attempt to claw back Pep Guardiola’s runaway leaders.
Eight points is the gap ahead of Sunday’s mouth-watering Old Trafford encounter and Mourinho has looked to disrupt rivals City before a ball is kicked.
While full of praise for Guardiola’s side, the Portuguese used the opportunity to underline the unbeaten league leaders’ apparent tendency to go to the deck.
“They are a good team,” Mourinho said. “They defend well, they react well to the moment they lose the ball.
“They have a good dynamic in attack, they have creative movement.
“They have amazing players, they have a fantastic coach, they have lots of good things.
“If you ask me one thing that I don’t like a lot it’s that they lose their balance very easily.
“You know, a little bit of wind and they fall.”
Mourinho’s comments are unlikely to go down well at the Etihad Stadium, especially after Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger accused in-form Raheem Sterling of diving last month.
Fernandinho was booked for simulation at Huddersfield and Burnley boss Sean Dyche fumed with the way Bernardo Silva went down to win a penalty earlier in the campaign.
Mourinho on political Guardiola
Mourinho has only added fuel to that particular fire, while the United boss has suggested he would find himself in hot water if he expressed political views in the way Guardiola does.
The City boss wears a yellow ribbon in support of imprisoned Catalan politicians.
“If the rules allow us to do that, he is a free citizen to do it,” Mourinho said.
“But I am not sure if the rules allows to have any political message on the pitch. That’s just my doubt.
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“But I know Pep and I know his feelings like everybody else knows because it is public about his country.”
Asked if he would never do a similar thing, he added: “I think I wouldn’t be allowed to do. That’s just what I think.”
UEFA allow political messages without offensive content, while the Football Association is understood to have a similar criteria.