Jose Mourinho has reportedly hold clear-the-air talks with Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw after the duo were publicly criticised by the Manchester United manager.
Mourinho has questioned both the players’ pain thresholds and attitudes after they were both left out of the squad for Sunday’s 3-1 success at Swansea. Mourinho publicly slammed the players in his interview after the game and some reports suggested the duo faced a long fight to win over Mourinho’s trust, while some even suggested the duo could face being sold.
But the Daily Express claims United insiders say Mourinho only wanted to send a broader message to his squad – that he wants everyone to ‘man up’ in his regime because he believes they were too molly-coddled under his predecessors Louis van Gaal and David Moyes.
It is also claimed Mourinho has now held clear-the-air talks with both Smalling and Shaw to explain his remarks and told them they both remain in first-team contention when United return to Premier League action against Arsenal next weekend.
While the two players were initially said to be baffled by his comments, they are now said to have accepted them in good faith and in turn have assured him they are totally committed to the cause. Other players in the United squad have no issue with the manager’s remarks.
Mourinho said: “I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he tells me when he remembered more the times he plays with pain than the times he plays without pain. To compete you have to go to the limit. It is cultural for some – and that is not my culture. More than me, it is Manchester United.”
Mourinho’s talk of ‘culture’ is believed to be a direct reference to Van Gaal’s Old Trafford tenure when he often referred to players being in the ‘red zone’ and his refusal to rush players back from injury or play them with knocks.
In one of his more illuminated press conferences, Van Gaal had said back in January: “Phil Jones is injured and a lot of players are in the red zone.”
And it is that kind of pampered culture that Mourinho is keen to stamp out as he tries to impose his authority on the Manchester United squad.