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.”
When asked whether Mourinho, who won three Premier League titles with Chelsea, is being shown enough respect at present, Sarri said: “I think, no, at the moment.”
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.”
The Blues have beaten United on all three occasions at Stamford Bridge since Mourinho’s move to United following his December 2015 sacking by Chelsea and his appointment at Old Trafford six months later.
United lost 4-0 on Mourinho’s first return as Conte’s side won the league in the Italian’s first season in charge and claimed 1-0 wins in the FA Cup and the league.
The Blues also beat United in May’s FA Cup final at Wembley in Conte’s final match as boss, before Sarri’s appointment.
With Eden Hazard in sparkling form with seven goals in eight league starts, United are expected to try to stop Chelsea from playing.
Sarri said: “We need to expect everything because we have to play against a very strong team, and usually a very strong team play very well in important matches. So we need to be prepared to face everything.”
Sarri was not prepared to comment on Mourinho’s tactics, which are often perceived to be negative.
“The problem is not the way of football, if I like it or not,” Sarri added.
“The focus is he is able to win. He has won everything everywhere, so probably that means he is right.”