JOSE Mourinho concedes the thing he will miss most at Old Trafford on Monday will be his exchanges with old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Portuguese makes his first visit to United since returning to Chelsea – although he did take his Real Madrid side to United for a Champions League showdown last season, when Ferguson revealed he would soon be retiring.
Mourinho has loved his visits to the Theatre of Dreams, ever since he famously led Porto to a a last-gasp victory at United and celebrated with that long run and slide down the touchline.
But the banter and post-match wine with the Scot will not be a part of the adventure this time and he says he will miss it.
“I think for me the difference will be the routine,” Mourinho said.
“I’ve made friends [with Sir Alex] and [will miss] being together and relaxed before the match and have the guarantee that after the match, independent of the result, we are together again enjoying our time and having a laugh.
“With David [Moyes], we don't have that kind of relationship, but have a good relationship, so I think we can start this kind of very nice relationship I have with Sir Alex.
“But the match is not manager against manager. It's club against club. It’s 11 against 11.”
Mourinho has tried to downplay the significance of the result in terms of the title race because it is so early in the season and because he believes more than two sides will be involved in the race this season.
“I think every game has an influence. I think if you lose against Aston Villa, or if we lose two points, I think it can affect,” he said.
“But this is not a two-horse race. In championships where it is a two-horse race, the two big matches are much more crucial. In this case, it's not like that because there are six teams and we have to play 10 big matches.
“It’s a match where every point we get is one point less the opponent gets, so it is important. But it is the beginning of the season.”