Jose Mourinho wheeled out his customary mind games before Tottenham Hotspur’s crunch match against Manchester City, questioning whether Raheem Sterling had really been injured over the international break.
The winger was named on the bench by Pep Guardiola despite returning to his club from England duty due to a calf complaint before the comfortable Nations League win over Iceland.
Sterling came on for the last 18 minutes as Tottenham ran out 2-0 winners to go top of the league thanks to strikes from Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso.
‘We are not as ready as Sterling because he was resting the whole week,’ Mourinho jibed before kick-off. ‘But we are fine, we are ready for the game.’
Raheem Sterling managed 18 minutes for Manchester City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Jose Mourinho couldn’t resist a few digs ahead of another clash with arch-rival Pep Guardiola
Guardiola responded: ‘He’s trained one day (for us) in the last week, but he’s not perfect.’
The dig came after the Portuguese said in Friday’s pre-match press conference that Man City’s dishonesty was in stark contrast to his own club, with Mourinho citing Eric Dier’s absence for Spurs after withdrawing from England duty.
‘We all know Sterling is going to play (against Spurs),’ said Mourinho.
‘When Eric Dier left the national team injured last month, he didn’t play two matches for Tottenham. He needed a couple of weeks to recover. And Raheem is going to play.’
Guardiola was exasperated, replying: ‘Mourinho has to speak to the doctor for the national team of England and the doctor for Manchester City. Except maybe Mourinho is a doctor, I don’t know.’
Mourinho also had a pop at Gareth Southgate in the same press conference after the England boss had said that clubs were putting pressure on their stars not to join up with England.
Mourinho cited Eric Dier’s injury issue last month as an example of Spurs’ superior honesty
The former Chelsea manager said: ‘Gareth Southgate, I read, told how some club managers put pressure on the players not to play for the national team.
‘And because of that he feels sometimes the need to call club managers to cool down the emotions and control a difficult situation for him.
‘I would like him to say who. Which coaches are putting pressure on the players not to play? I would like him to say which coaches he calls and speaks on the phone with?’