Jose Mourinho will be reunited with an old foe when he takes on Manchester United with Tottenham this weekend. And we don’t mean Paul Pogba.
The Premier League has confirmed referee Michael Oliver will take charge of the fixture between Spurs and Manchester United.
This appointment will not please Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, and leave him further agitated this weekend.
Michael Oliver is a referee Mourinho has repeatedly made clear his dislike of. The Portuguese manager is hardly a referee’s friend at the best of times, but Oliver is an official he has particular distaste for.
This stems back to his time as Manchester United boss. Mourinho previously hit out at Oliver for his role in United’s FA Cup exit against Chelsea in 2017.
He was seen remonstrating with him at the final whistle, before insisting he was just congratulating him on a good job.
Later that season he told Eurosport: “Thank you Michael Oliver, because we were out in the FA Cup, because if we go to the FA Cup semi-finals it would be a total disaster”, while in the midst of a rant about fixture scheduling.
Later that year after a defeat to Manchester City in December 2017, he called out Oliver again after United were denied a penalty.
He said sarcastically, reported via The Express “I feel sorry for referee Michael Oliver because he had a very good match but unfortunately he made an important mistake.”
He had earlier told ESPN he was upset with Oliver awarding three red cards and one penalty against United during a four-game span.
Oliver was the 2018 FA Cup final referee too, when United lost to Chelsea at Wembley.
Still no happier
Mourinho is as grumpy as ever at Tottenham, perhaps more so due to an injury crisis.
In January he publicly criticised Michael Oliver again, lamenting ‘very bad decisions’ made by the referee after a 0-0 draw with Watford. [BBC Sport]
It is classic Mourinho to deflect and call out and focus on an official after a poor result for his side.
It’s also hard to believe he is not cursing his bad luck at finding out Oliver will referee Sunday’s fixture. It is one United want to win badly, and Tottenham cannot afford to lose.
Oliver’s appointment does not necessarily favour United in any way. He has given plenty of decisions against us, as Mourinho’s previous criticisms show. He has sent off Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, and Angel di Maria in previous matches.
But this weekend it will be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer entering the match with a clear head, while Mourinho will be riled up from the start, fuelled by previous perceived injustices against him.
If he struggles to keep his focus, and that transmits to his players, United could end up benefitting in a crucial encounter in the top four race.
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