Ander Herrera and Jose Mourinho together earlier this season (Getty)

Jose Mourinho has moved to play down Ander Herrera billing Thursday’s clash between Manchester United and Man City as the ‘game of the season’.

The rivals meet at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday with both teams battling for a place in the top four.

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Speaking ahead of the game Herrera told Manchester United’s official website: ‘It’s going to be the game of the season.

‘We are one point behind them and if we win, we have the chance to finish in the top four, but if they win, it will be very difficult for us.

‘I don’t know the “winner takes all” expression but it’s going to be a massive game. If one of us wins it, we are not going to lose a lot of games or make mistakes after that. It will be key.

‘We are in a very good moment, on a very good run and we respect them, but we are doing a lot of good things and we have to show it on Thursday.’

Ander Herrera is enjoying the best season of his Manchester United career (Getty)

Mourinho however believes that Herrera only gave it such big billing because the Spanish midfielder has taken on board his philosophy that the next game is always the biggest of the season.

‘He says that because I always say that about the next match. He is getting my message,’ the Manchester United manager told Sky Sports.

‘Before Swansea I will say against Swansea is the match of the season.

‘Man City is because it’s the next one.’

Jose Mourinho is looking to maintain his side’s long Premier League unbeaten run (Getty)

Asked if denting Man City’s top four ambitions was a consideration, Mourinho said: ‘That’s not for me to make that analysis.

‘I say that we forget the trophy we won [EFL Cup], we forget the next couple of days that we have to play Europa League semis and we have 25 per cent chance of winning that competition. We just focus on the Premier League.’

Manchester United fixtures

Man City (A) – Thu 27 April
Swansea (H) – Sun 30 April
Celta Vigo (A) – Thu 4 May
Arsenal (A) – Sun 7 May
Celta Vigo (H) – Thu 11 May
Tottenham (A) – Sun 14 May
Southampton (A) – Wed 17 May
Crystal Palace (H) – Sun 21 May

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The build up to Thursday’s game has not been dominated by talk of the Mourinho v Pep Guardiola rivalry as it was in the first. Instead the focus is more on the players which pleases the Manchester United manager.

‘I see it now that is the correct approach, the previous wasn’t. This is about the clubs, the teams, this is about the positions in the end of the season.

‘This is not about myself and Guardiola. I think now that is the correct approach.’

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