Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has followed up his diving jibe at Manchester City by suggesting that Pep Guardiola’s side like “a tactical foul”.
The Red Devils boss has turned up the mind games ahead of a derby date on Sunday, with the Portuguese accusing City players of going down under “a little bit of wind”.
He has now claimed that a side renowned for their attacking intent are able to stay on the front foot by preventing opponents from countering on them by any means possible.
Mourinho is looking for the match officials to be wise to such tactics at Old Trafford, with more questions being asked of the men in the middle.
“It is a strategy that City have,” said the United boss.
“They put lots of players in attacking areas and when they lose the ball, they can be unbalanced in terms of numbers. They have lots of people surrounding the ball area and they have a very strong – and this is a great quality – transition in the next few seconds.
“After they lose the ball, many times they need what is called a tactical foul. Then it is up to the referee to analyse and to make a decision about it.
“My answer always has to be the referee has to do his job – but I cannot speak about the referee.”
While reluctant to be drawn into another debate regarding the performance of referees, Mourinho is still irked by the display of Mark Clattenburg in a 2-1 derby defeat for his side in 2016-17.
He added: “Last season taught me that if you make naïve mistakes you are punished.
“It also taught me that while they always try to do their best, even an important refereeing mistake can affect the game.
“In the last game, the result was clearly affected by a big refereeing mistake.
“It was a penalty and a red card to Claudio Bravo, in the beginning of the second half with the result 2-1.”
The last big refereeing call to frustrate Mourinho and United saw Paul Pogba shown a straight red card at Arsenal, with that dismissal set to keep a key figure out of a crunch clash with Premier League leaders City.
He added: “We have lost a very important player for us.
“There is a Manchester United with Paul and there is a Manchester United without Paul.
“He is a player that has an impact in our style of play and now we have to cope without him for the next three matches.
“It’s not pessimistic. It’s just a different way to play football.
“Do you think I have in my team a midfield player who can make the third goal at Arsenal? We don’t.
“The others do other things. Marouane Fellaini can score an amazing header. Nemanja Matic can shoot from outside the box. Ander Herrera can do other good things.
“But a midfield player to do and create what Pogba did in the third goal against Arsenal, we don’t have.”