JOSE Mourinho has paid tribute to Saints ahead of Manchester United’s visit to St Mary’s tomorrow.

He has described Saints as “very stable” and believes his former Barcelona colleague Mauricio Pellegrino is fortunate to be in charge of a “very good club.”

Mourinho said: “Southampton, to be fair, I played them in my second spell in England, I played them and they had Mauricio (Pochettino), and then (Ronald) Koeman, and then (Claude) Puel and now Mauricio - and I don’t see many changes.

“It’s the kind of club where they are very stable in the way they play, the way they think (about) football, the qualities of their players.

“It’s a good team to be a manager (of). Honestly, it’s a very good club to be a manager and I see the match as a very difficult match.”

Meanwhile, Pellegrino insists his Liverpool connections do not serve as an added incentive to beat their bitter rivals Manchester United.

The 45-year-old former central defender made 13 appearances for the Anfield club under Rafael Benitez in 2005 before returning to Merseyside as first-team coach in the summer of 2008.

His Saints side take on United tomorrow, but Pellegrino is focused on gaining a positive result for his current employers rather than settling any old scores.

“This is part of my history as a player and as a first coach with Rafa Benitez in Liverpool,” he said. “For me they (Liverpool and United) are two of the biggest teams in England, in the world.

“But for me my challenge is to try to prepare my team as best as possible to try to win the game.

“I don’t have any relationship with Liverpool.”

Pellegrino was in the twilight of his playing career during his short spell in English football.

He became the first Argentinian to represent Liverpool after arriving on a free transfer from LaLiga side Valencia at the age of 33 in January 2005.

His debut in England’s top-flight came against United and, despite losing at home to a solitary goal from Wayne Rooney, Pellegrino remembers the occasion fondly.

“It was a nice moment in my life, it was my first Premier League game,” added Pellegrino, who was ineligible for the Reds’ successful Champions League campaign that season.

“We lost 1-0 but obviously I remember this game.

“I did my best for this club in this moment but this is part of my past, the present is different.”