Silva | “He Is My Opponent”

José Mourinho was in prickly mood in his pre-match press conference. Watch above as the United boss discusses Paul Pogba, the Hornets and Romelu Lukaku. 

Marco Silva has sought to play down the fascinating Portuguese subplot involving him and Jose Mourinho tonight, insisting it will not distract him from the task of toppling the Europa League winners.

Silva and Mourinho have become good friends, particularly since Silva moved to England, and the Watford Head Coach revealed he spoke to the Manchester United manager before accepting the role at Vicarage Road last summer. 

Yet Silva cites the League Cup win he achieved over Mourinho's side at the KC Stadium earlier this year, and the goalless Premier League draw he masterminded at Old Trafford, as evidence that he is able to shelve his friendship with his countryman and focus on the tough job of getting a result against the Red Devils.

“We'll chat before the match and after the match but when the game starts, it's Watford versus Manchester United,” he said. “It's a very good relationship. He's a friend, he's a very good person but he is my opponent.”

He's also something of a mentor to Silva who has been favourably compared to Mourinho in the way he sets his team up and goes about his business.

“It's a good sign when you are compared with a good coach, especially what he did in the last 15 years,” said Silva. “I need to improve every day and I need to build my career.

“My focus in this moment is to do my best, like I did this morning, like I'll do tomorrow. I'm sure if I keep going, doing my work, many good things can come in the future. But, for me, it's about the next day, the next training, the next match.”

And what a match, the visit of the most successful side in Premier League history. The Golden Boys showed they could topple one of the big boys when they beat Arsenal, and they need to summon all that spirit again to give second-place United a run for their money under the lights at Vicarage Road. A repeat of last season's 3-1 win would have The Vic rocking.

“It's a very good game for us against a big team,” said Silva. “We want to win and take a good result. It's a tough game against a very good team with very, very good players. They did very well in the transfer market.”

Watford's didn't do too bad either, recruiting 10 players who have been beautifully knitted together by Silva. The Head Coach's tactical acumen, in setting up those players, was evident again on Saturday. He spotted a weakness down Newcastle's right side and got his players to flood that channel. Marvin Zeegalaar and Richarlison made hay, creating all three goals from the left flank. Expect Silva to try and pull another rabbit out of the hat against United in what is likely to be an intriguing tactical battle.

“We did our work, we've analysed the Man United team," he said. "They are strong but we analyse some areas where we can achieve some important things. We will prepare very well and respect our opponent. I want to see again our image. We will do our best and I'm sure we will compete. The result? We'll see what happens after the match but we'll be doing 100 per cent to achieve a good result.”


Team News | Manchester United

Marco Silva will give Miguel Britos until tomorrow's final training session to prove his fitness for the visit of Manchester United.

Britos limped off in the 52nd minute of Saturday's thumping 3-0 win at Newcastle after failing to shake off the knock he picked up to his left leg following a heavy first-half challenge from Jonjo Shelvey. 

“The situation with Britos we will keep open,” said the Head Coach. “He is still in doubt. We'll see. I'm not sure if he's able to play. We have one more session tomorrow, one more session to prepare for the match and then we will take the decision.”

If Britos fails to make it then Sebastian Prödl is standing by and ready to make his first start since August 26. He slotted in seamlessly to the heart of the defence on Saturday and the Hornets have not conceded a league goal when the giant Austrian has been on the field this season. 

“He's improving his physical condition,” said Silva. “It's been two months without competition, two months without training with the team. It's hard. He's improving and played almost 45 minutes [against Newcastle]. That's good for him.”

Silva will also be boosted by the return of captain Troy Deeney, who is available again after serving a three-match ban, adding to the team's attacking options.  

“He comes back after the ban and is available if I take the decision for him to stay in the squad,” said Silva. “If I decide for him to stay in the squad, he's one more player to help us.”

Silva reported there was no real update to provide on long-term absentees Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah and Younès Kaboul but did add that: “Maybe Success looks like the next few weeks. The others we have big doubts about.”

Watch the full press conference above for free, no sign-up required.