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Dier claim has not harmed friendship: Mourinho

Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho (R) and Tottenham Hotspur’s Mauricio Pochettino, seen embracing after a match on October 28, 2017, remain friends even though their teams are in competition, says Mourinho © AFP / Oli SCARFF

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Oct 29Jose Mourinho says his friendship with Mauricio Pochettino remains intact despite the Tottenham manager claiming in his autobiography he was angry with his Manchester United counterpart for making overtures to midfielder Eric Dier.

In the book ‘Brave New World’ Pochettino alleges Mourinho had a lengthy conversation with Dier in the tunnel after United beat Spurs at Old Trafford in December last season.

That was months after Mourinho had reportedly made attempts to sign the England international and, the book further claims, it led Pochettino to hold talks with the player to tell him he would not be leaving the club.

But, speaking before the corresponding fixture between the clubs 10 months on, Mourinho made light of the allegations and insisted he has a strong relationship with the Argentinian.

“I don’t know if it is Mauricio’s words or it is his ghost writer’s, I really don’t know,” said Mourinho.

“What I do know, is that every season, during the summer, before every season he calls me and I call Mauricio and we ask about each other’s players to see if they are or are not available.

“I don’t know why I should speak to Dier on a football match day in the tunnel, maybe it is to try and sell books.

“Maybe his ghost writer wants to make some money.

“But I never said that I wanted Dier. I never say who the players are I want.”

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Pochettino’s side is looking increasingly like a credible title challenger to leaders Manchester City, and United, this season and, although Mourinho heaped praise upon his friend, he declined to offer an assessment of his performance in charge to date.

“It’s not for me to judge that,” said Mourinho.

“Pressure, no pressure, has to win the title, yes or no, it’s not my problem.

“I just have a very good relationship with him. He’s one of the guys I’ve known for many years and we’ve always had a very good relationship.

“I think he’s a very good manager, but don’t ask me more than that.”

– ‘An isolated case’ –

Moving forward, one of Mourinho’s priorities is to retain midfielder Marouane Fellaini, pictured in September 2017 © AFP / Paul ELLIS

Mourinho made it crystal clear the poor attitude displayed by his team in their surprising, and first, defeat of the season at Huddersfield will not be seen again.

“To play badly and lose matches, I think that can happen again,” he said.

“It happens during a season, you cannot play well all the time, you cannot win all the time.

“You cannot even be lucky all the time. So to lose again, I think it is going to happen.

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“But in terms of the attitude that we didn’t like and knowing the players and what good people they are, I believe it was an isolated case.”

The United manager also admitted convincing midfielder Marouane Fellaini to sign a new, extended contract at Old Trafford has become a priority.

The 30-year-old Belgian international has flourished under Mourinho and won over sections of the United support who had been critical of him.

He, along with little-used former England full-back Luke Shaw, is out of contract at the end of the season.

Fellaini would technically be free to talk to foreign clubs as early as January as he enters the final months of his contract and Mourinho, when asked about Shaw’s contract situation, made it clear tying the midfielder to a new deal is far more of a priority as the defender has another option year on his own deal.

“I’m worried about Fellaini and not about Luke Shaw,” he said.

“Because Fellaini finishes his contract and Luke Shaw doesn’t.”

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