Jose Mourinho has publicly stated that his defenders Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling have to play through pain after the two pulled out of Manchester United’s game against Swansea
A false dawn or the start of an inevasible failure? In Jose Mourinho’s brief spell at Manchester United, he has done very little to turn the fortunes around for the club that has been in a slump for the past three seasons.
A shambolic week began with United drawing 0-0 at home to a newly-promoted Burnley side despite having 37 attempts on goal. Then, four days later, they were handed yet another reality check as they succumbed to a shock 2-1 defeat against Fenerbahce in the Europa League.
Sunday’s game against Swansea had become a must win for the manager who was already showing signs of shakiness after being sent to the stands due to an altercation with the official in the Burnley match. Mourinho, watching the game from the stands, sent out a team that raised a number of eyebrows.
The inclusion of Michael Carrick, though, seemed to be the silver lining in a side that included the much maligned duo of Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini. Despite all the negativity building up to the game, the Red Devils managed to win the contest 3-1.
Much like the scoreline suggested, it was a convincing performance from them. World-record signing Paul Pobga showed signs of his prolific self while Zlatan Ibrahimovic got back to finding the back of the net after a dry spell in front of goal.
After the match, Mourinho was understandably pleased with his side’s performance and the result overall, but pointed out the unwillingness of the likes of Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling to play the game against Swansea.
“We have players with problems but we have on the pitch players with problems. That’s what I mean. I know in other sports – at the highest level – how many times you play and you are not 100 per cent,” said Mourinho in regard to his team selection, according to the Daily Mirror.
“To compete you have to go to the limits. It’s a cultural thing for some. That is not my culture.
“Smalling doesn’t feel that he can play 100 per cent with his pain. Shaw told me this morning that he wasn’t in the condition to play, so we had to build a defensive line,” he added.
The big question here is whether or not Mourinho is losing the dressing room at his new club?
The Portuguese has never shied away from taking subtle and sometimes direct digs at his players, but it might not be taken in the right spirit in the Old Trafford dressing room.
A number of senior figures at the club will be familiar with the hairdryer treatment Sir Alex Ferguson was known to give, but seldom did he berate his players in front of the media.
In just four months in charge, Mourinho has already criticised the likes of Shaw, Mkhitaryan, Smalling and Anthony Martial. He has also chosen to leave veteran midfielder such as Bastian Schweinsteiger in the cold, because of his inability to adapt into his plans.
This has been the second instance when Mourinho has been critical about the performances of Shaw. The English left-back was publicly blamed by the United boss for conceding a goal against Watford which saw the Reds lose 3-1.
Mkhitaryan was just given a cameo off the bench against Hull and forty-five minutes against Manchester City – where he looked completely off the pace, to the say the least.
Schweinsteiger, a World Cup winner, has done very little to deserve the treatment he has received at the club. Unlike other players, the German was not given a chance to prove himself, and had Mourinho saying that he is not fit enough to be a part of his Premier League squad.
Mourinho has every right to say this. I suspect Anthony Martial’s agent’s words haven’t helped this week (disrespectful to swap shirt no.) pic.twitter.com/zjkrEKntlE
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) November 6, 2016
Mourinho has failed to convince the fans and probably few of his players about certain decisions regarding his match-day squads. He has also played a number of players out of position, and has failed to bring out the best out of most of them.
His abrasive attitude is undeniably different from the reserved approaches David Moyes and Louis van Gaal resorted to in their press conferences, but it may be taking its toll in damaging few egos on and off the pitch. Many players want support, most of them crave it, and the Portuguese is hell-bent on instigating them to bring out the best from his side.
It is definitely way too soon to say that Mourinho losing the dressing room at Manchester United, but there are cracks beginning to appear in his relationship with certain players. Thus, it may be better for the former Chelsea manager to refrain from being brutally honest in his interviews and press conferences, and rather address the problems with his players behind closed doors.