Jose Mourinho vowed to bring Marine ‘back to reality’ and told the eighth-tier minnows: the best way to respect you is by beating you, writes Will Jennings.
The ‘Special One’ takes his Tottenham team to the Marine Travel Arena on Sunday for the biggest mismatch in FA Cup history.
Neil Young’s Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One North West side lie 161 league places below Spurs but will carry the hopes of the non-league nation in front of the BBC cameras.
Mourinho thinks Marine would prefer to play a full strength Spurs side and promised to burst their giant-killing bubble to keep his hopes of a second FA Cup trophy alive.
The 57-year-old said: “The way to respect them, and the way to make it beautiful for them, is to go there with a good team and win the match.
A huge weekend for @MarineAFC.
Neil Young's @NorthernPremLge side face @SpursOfficial on Sunday - and it's rekindled special memories at @HYUFC_Official.
We spoke to @timfuell about their FA Cup clash against @NUFC in 2005 - and his message to the Marine players 📽️👇 pic.twitter.com/ec9c9mYKqP
— Pitching In (@PitchingIn_) January 8, 2021
“I understand the dream, and it’s up to us to bring them back to reality.
“I clearly understand the dream. Nobody puts a foot on a football pitch knowing or feeling we are going to lose.
“In this moment, they feel they are going to win and it’s up to us to bring them back to reality. We are top professionals, we are different level, we are going to win.
“It’s up to us to make them understand that as soon as possible but at this moment, they have the dream.
“I honestly believe they want to play against a Tottenham first team. That’s what they want. I don’t think they would be happy if Tottenham go there with a team that is not a strong Tottenham side. We want to give them that respect by going there with a team that is a very good team.
“I don’t think they want to play against Tottenham Under-23. I think they want to play against a Tottenham side they are used to watching, admiring and following.”
Mourinho’s opponents are financially supported by Entain’s, owner of Ladbrokes, multi-million pound, multi-year investment programme Pitching In.
The partnership helped propel the minnows past Chester and Colchester but Mourinho, chasing a first trophy at Tottenham, is a man on a mission to stop their fairytale run.
Marine have received help from both Liverpool and Everton in the build-up to the game, training at Finch Farm on Thursday before using Liverpool’s facilities on Saturday.
We have now sold 6,400 virtual tickets. The record has been broken! Thank you all.
As a permanent thank you, we will be creating a board at the Crosender Road End of the ground which will contain the full name of EVERY ticket holder as an everlasting reminder of your support. pic.twitter.com/sI9K5kKzAS
— Marine Football Club (@MarineAFC) January 8, 2021
The club have recouped lost gate receipts through a virtual ticketing scheme and also received support from Jamie Carragher’s JC23 Foundation charity.
Mourinho, who lifted the FA Cup with Chelsea in 2007, hailed the club’s innovative methods of funding and admits playing behind closed doors is a source of regret.
“To play these matches without fans, not just economically but emotionally, is sad,” he added.
“We go to Marine for a historical match – we feel very sorry the stadium is empty and they cannot celebrate the day the way they would love.
“If people can help in a few ways, buying virtual tickets, it’s nice. It’s not what they would love, but it’s nice.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. The programme includes a flagship partnership with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues - collectively known as The Trident League, as well as a partnership with the UK sports charity SportsAid. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/