Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri reckons the players at Jose Mourinho’s disposal at Manchester United are the best in the Premier League – and that the Portuguese will win major silverware again.
Chelsea’s only defeat this season came in the Community Shield to Manchester City, who lead the Blues and Liverpool on goal difference at the top of the Premier League.
Mourinho, meanwhile, is embattled at United, who are eighth after three losses in the opening eight games.
“They are a very strong team. Maybe player by player they are the best team in the Premier League,” Sarri said.
“At the moment I think City is better like a team, but player by player they (United) are very, very strong.”
That may be interpreted as implied criticism of Mourinho, but Sarri was not about to emulate his predecessor, Antonio Conte, in igniting a public feud with the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss.
The 59-year-old former banker accepts Mourinho is, for the time being, a better coach than him – and can win trophies again.
Sarri, who is yet to win a trophy in his management career, said: “The results speak for him. I need to win if I want to compare myself to him. At the moment, it’s not possible (to compare).
“You are talking about one of the best coaches in the world, and I’m not at the moment one of the best.
“I think he will be able to win also in the future. Because he is really one of the best. Maybe the best. The results are the best.”
The former Napoli boss suggested it was too early to comment on United’s season to date.
Asked if he was surprised by United’s start, Sarri added: “A little bit, but I think it can happen. We are talking about only eight matches. They are doing well in the Champions League, so they have the opportunity to improve in the Premier League. We are talking about two months.”
Meanwhle Mourinho believes Eden Hazard’s form bodes well for Chelsea’s title challenge.
The Belgian has once again been Chelsea’s star player in the league over the first two months of the season, and United head to Stamford Bridge with their opponents locked together with Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the table.
Mourinho said: “The results speak by themselves. Obviously they are not playing Champions League, and that puts (their focus) just on the Premier League.
“Very good results, top of the league and of course lots of good players, but history says that when Eden Hazard is the best player in the Premier League, Chelsea is the champion.
“Happened with me, happened with Antonio (Conte). The season is still in the beginning of course but, if he is the best player of the Premier League until now, which I think he is, Chelsea is top of the league because he’s the kind of player who can make a huge difference.”
In an interview last weekend with a Belgian newspaper, Hazard named Mourinho as the one manager he would like to work with again.
Mourinho welcomed the sentiment — but is not about to get his hopes up.
“I would love to have him in Manchester United but I don’t think Chelsea will sell him to Manchester United so it’s a non-problem because Chelsea are led by intelligent and experienced people in football and I think they would never sell Eden to Manchester United,” the United boss said.
United go into the clash sitting seven points adrift of Chelsea but at least they have positive feelings from their last match two weeks ago when they recovered from two goals down to beat Newcastle 3-2.
The comeback saw a gung-ho United that many fans have been crying out for, but Mourinho insisted he is trying to get his team playing attacking football all the time.
“We try,” he said. “The key is for the players to be able to do it.”