José Mourinho questions mentality of absent players
Manchester United ease past Swansea despite fielding a make shift back four
José Mourinho has questioned the mentality of his players who didn’t travel to Swansea on Sunday. Photograph: Afp
José Mourinho has questioned the willingness of some of his Manchester United squad to play through the pain barrier, with Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling appearing to be among those the manager had in mind when he expressed his frustration and insisted that mentalities would have to change.
Although United beat Swansea City 3-1 to win for the first time in five Premier League matches, Mourinho was clearly annoyed that he had to name a makeshift back four in which Ashley Young played at right-back and Matteo Darmian at left-back. Before the match the United manager ran through the team news with MUTV and said: “Smalling doesn’t feel that he can play 100% with his pain, Luke Shaw told me this morning that he was not in the condition to play, so we had to build a defensive line.”
Rather pointedly Mourinho added: “Daley Blind has some problems but he put himself available to be on the bench and to try to help the team, so the people that are here are people that I trust for a difficult match.”
Asked about those comments after a game in which Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice and Paul Pogba got the first as United raced into 3-0 lead before half-time, Mourinho said: “In every sport – and I know because I have friends and they play at the highest level in other sports – how many times you play and you are not 100%. I have a friend that is a big tennis player, he tells me he remembers more the times he played with pain than the times he played without any pain. To compete you have to go to the limits. It’s a cultural thing for some and that’s not my culture.
“There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference. If I were to speak with the many great football people of this team, they will say many times they played without being 100%. For the team you have to do anything, that is my way of seeing [THINGS].
“Of course, it is not just the players, it is the players and the people that surround the players. Yes, it takes time [TO CHANGE]but with the help of people like Phil Jones, who was playing without having even trained, Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney, with these people it will not be an impossible mission but a possible mission.”
Mourinho was asked whether the players he was referring to would have to change to play for him. “Exactly,” he said, before quickly adding: “More than me, [FOR]Man United.”
Otherwise it was a highly satisfactory afternoon for Mourinho as United climbed up to sixth in the table, with Ibrahimovic scoring his first Premier League goals in almost two months. “I think it will do nothing [FOR HIM]. He is not a player who lacks confidence,” Mourinho said. “I used to say that a striker that doesn’t score goals and does nothing else is one player less. A striker that doesn’t score goals but does everything else is a very important player for the team.”