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    ‘I’m not one to really go into mind games’: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists his spat with ‘charismatic’ Jose Mourinho was ‘just a bit of fun’ as Man United prepare for former manager’s return to Old Trafford with Tottenham

    • Mourinho takes on his former club when Spurs head to Manchester on Sunday
    • Solskjaer and his predecessor have traded barbs in the build-up to the game
    • But the United boss was quick to dismiss the comments as harmless fun 
    • He went on a charm offensive, saying he has ‘ultimate respect’ for Mourinho 

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has played down his spat with Jose Mourinho ahead of the former Manchester United manager’s return to Old Trafford with Tottenham on Sunday.

    The two coaches have exchanged barbs over the past week but Solskjaer was quick to dismiss it as harmless banter as he launched a charm offensive on his predecessor.

    ‘We’re in strange times at the moment, and sometimes you’ve got to have a bit of fun as well,’ said the United manager.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists his spat with Jose Mourinho is ‘just a bit of fun’ as the two managers prepare to go head-to-head at Old Trafford on Sunday

    ‘It was a couple of innocent comments. For me, Jose is a very charismatic coach and manager. The media have enjoyed talking to him and 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, his results and everything he’s given football.’ 

    Responding to Mourinho’s observation that Solskjaer has relied heavily on penalty awards to win games, the Norwegian laughed and replied: ‘No, the rules are as they are in football. I didn’t really think more about that one.

    ‘It’s just more for you and the media. 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, in press conferences and on the pitch.

    Solskjaer played down the significance of his exchanges with Mourinho and launched a charm offensive about his predecessor as United manager

    Solskjaer played down the significance of his exchanges with Mourinho and launched a charm offensive about his predecessor as United manager

    ‘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.’ 

    Previously, Solskjaer had the first dig at Mourinho after the Portuguese complained that the goalposts were five centimetres smaller than regulation for Spurs’ Europa League tie against Shkendija in Macedonia last week.

    ‘You have to be happy Jose isn’t here to measure the goalposts, it might have been a smaller goal,’ laughed Solskjaer after Brighton hit the woodwork five times against United last weekend.

    Mourinho retaliated by mentioning the number of penalties United have been awarded under Solskjaer after Bruno Fernandes scored a late winner from the spot at the Amex.

    Mourinho had made a comment about the number of penalties United are awarded - including the match-winning one converted by Bruno Fernandes at Brighton last week

    Mourinho had made a comment about the number of penalties United are awarded – including the match-winning one converted by Bruno Fernandes at Brighton last week

    ‘I think Ole was so happy and surprised with what happened to his team that he had a joke,’ said Mourinho. 

    ‘But I think for him 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. For him it would be better.’ 

    Ahead of United’s return to Brighton in the Carabao Cup in midweek, Solskjaer couldn’t resist a reference to Spurs reaching a fourth round clash with Chelsea without playing a game after receiving a bye against Leyton Orient.

    ‘It depends how you want to get there,’ he smiled. ‘You’ve got teams getting there without playing, even to this round!’



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