Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits he and Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho have ‘had a bit of fun’ at each other’s expense over the last week as they prepare to face each other on Sunday.
Spurs travel to United eight days after Solskjaer joked about Mourinho’s measurement of the goalframe in Tottenham’s Europa League win at Shkendija, where the crossbar was five centimetres lower than it was supposed to be.
After Brighton hit the woodwork five times in their 3-2 defeat to United last Saturday, Solskjaer remarked: “You have to be happy Jose isn’t here to measure the goalposts, it might have been a smaller goal!”
The next day, a deadpan Mourinho mischievously suggested United were overreliant on penalties: “I think for him (Solskjaer) the dimension of the goalposts are not important. For him what is important is the dimensions of the 18-yard box. He’d never accept to play with a 17-yard box, I think he would prefer a 22-yard box.”
Solskjaer had another dig in midweek when he referred to Tottenham being given a bye to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, but the United manager emphasised his respect for Mourinho ahead of their third meeting.
“We are in strange times at the moment and sometimes you’ve got to have a bit of fun as well,” Solskjaer said. “It was a couple of innocent comments. For me, Jose’s a very charismatic coach and manager and I’ve enjoyed talking to him, I’ve enjoyed watching him. He’s a winner.
“But I’m not one of these that really go into all these mind games. I’ve got ultimate respect for him as a coach and, of course, his results and everything he has given football.”
When asked about Mourinho’s implication United are dependent on penalties, Solskjaer replied: “Ha ha ha. No, the rules are as they are in football, aren’t they? I didn’t really think more about that one.
“It’s just more for you and the media, I think it’s important that we have a bit of entertainment as well and Jose has throughout the years given us some fantastic moments in football, both in his press conferences and on the pitch.
“But, as a striker, I didn’t mind how big the box was. When I got in there, it was just a strike on goal.”