Thursday 14 December 2017

Mourinho fires warning at his 'fragile' players

Jose Mourinho and Chris Smalling in Stockholm
Jose Mourinho and Chris Smalling in Stockholm

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has fired a blunt warning to the "fragile" players in his squad, telling them that they must toughen up if they want to retain his trust.

Mourinho won the 25th trophy of his managerial career when United beat Ajax 2-0 in the Europa League final in Stockholm on Wednesday to secure their third piece of silverware of the campaign after the League Cup and Community Shield and, with it, guarantee qualification for next season's Champions League.

But Mourinho has admitted he has difficulty understanding the mindset of players who do not share his fierce will to win and that he has to lean on his assistants for help dealing with those to whom he is at risk of giving the cold shoulder.


Mourinho's remarks, which came in an interview with Rio Ferdinand for a revealing BT Sport documentary, Old Trafford Uncovered, that was filmed before the Ajax game, appeared to be a thinly-veiled ultimatum to the likes of the Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling, all of whom he has clashed with this season.

Shaw and Smalling, the England defenders, face uncertain futures at Old Trafford as Mourinho prepares to fine-tune his squad while France striker Martial will be under growing pressure to deliver next season after an underwhelming second year at the club.

"For me what's more difficult (as a manager) is the fragile mentality," Mourinho said. "I think it's probably my weakness as a manager, that it's difficult for me to understand people with a different mentality to what I have.

"Sometimes I ask my assistants to help me on that because maybe they have a different profile to me. .

Mourinho used England striker Rashford, still only 19, as an example of the attitude he is looking for.

"What I love about this kid Marcus is he copes with the pressure," Mourinho said.

"I can press him, I can be very demanding with him, he's the kind of kid that when the training session finishes it doesn't finish for him. He wants more.


"He was, of course, a tornado, when he arrived last season without pressure. And this season when the pressure was on him, when he was not scoring goals for one, two, three, four months, he coped with that pressure."

Now 54, Mourinho said he plans to manage until close to his 70th birthday and is eager to carve a slice of history for himself at Old Trafford after claiming he feels irrelevant next to Alex Ferguson and Matt Busby.

"If I finish my career tomorrow I should be very happy with my experience but the problem is my career just reached the halfway stage. I have 15 more years," he said.

"But in this club it makes me feel that I did nothing, especially because you have two legends in terms of titles and trophies.

"I feel that I am nobody. I always have to prove. I just feel that what I did in this club is not enough to deserve to be here."

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