Mauricio Pellegrino is relishing coming up against Jose Mourinho almost 20 years after the pair worked together at Barcelona.

Pellegrino was a centre half under Louis Van Gaal at the Nou Camp while Mourinho was cutting his teeth on a backroom staff that also included Ronald Koeman.

The Saints boss spent a season on loan at Barca in 1998/99 and this afternoon gets the chance to go head-to-head with Mourinho in the dugout as Manchester United visit St Mary’s.

Pellegrino recalled: “When I was a player there (Barcelona) he was working in the staff as a coach, talking about the opponent and working with Van Gaal.

“It was a really nice experience in my life and I met him in this time in my life, but as a coach not as an interpreter or manager and after his life changed completely, and my life was in another way.

“Now football allows me to be face-to-face with him and it will be nice.”

He added: “Obviously Jose in the modern football is one of the references, but I don’t know how he is in the dressing room because I was never part of a team with him, but everybody knows how Mourinho’s team are on the pitch.

“Every single day for me is a nice challenge. My challenge is to be better every single day and offer to my players the best product in a training session and find ways to inspire them to be better players inside and outside the pitch because human beings play football.

“The result in our life is everything. We need results all the time.

“Playing against Manchester United is one of the most beautiful things. The biggest team in the world.”

For all the talk of the two managers, Pellegrino insists the focus should remain on the players.

“Always I think we are a team and always I try to adapt to my players and my players talk on the pitch for Southampton, not just Pellegrino,” he said.

“It’s not a game between the managers, it’s a game between two teams.

“We have got our possibility and I am confident we can put them under pressure and we will fight for this.”

Pellegrino has United down as sure fire title contenders and admits his team are in for a stern examination this afternoon.

“Yes sure, because they work as a team, they have players with quality and in one second they can change the game,” he reflected.

“They are really strong and they showed last season winning two titles and after five games it’s too early to draw some conclusions but they are showing their quality.”