Manchester United’s players are reportedly behind Jose Mourinho’s decision to publicly criticise Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, according to a report on Tuesday.
The duo were the latest big names to fall foul of the Portuguese coach after he questioned their commitment after both were left out of Sunday’s matchday squad for the victory at Swansea.
When asked about the England internationals, Mourinho told MUTV: “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.
“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.”
“What I mean is that we have players with problems, but we also have players on the pitch who have problems,” he said.
“I have friends from other sports, playing at the highest level. How many times do they play when they are not 100 per cent?
“I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he tells me that he remembers more times when he has played with pain than the times he has played without any pain.
“To compete, you have to work to the limits. It is a cultural thing, for some. But that’s not my culture.”
But a report in Tuesday’s Sun suggests United’s senior stars accept that the only way to succeed under the Special One is to accept his ruthless regime.
The paper claims senior stars were ‘fully behind’ his public attack on the duo.
It adds left-back Shaw, 21, and centre-half Smalling, 26, now face a battle to save their United careers.
Southgate defends Shaw and Smalling
As a result, both were omitted from Gareth Southgate’s England squad to face Scotland on Friday and then Spain in a prestige friendly on Tuesday.
Shaw only returned to the United side at the start of the season after fracturing his leg last year.
And interim boss Southgate said: “There are physical and psychological aspects to getting an injured player back fit.
“There are different approaches towards that because sometimes you might need a nudge to say, ‘Come on, you can’.
“But I can’t comment on the two guys as I don’t know the specifics of exactly where they’re at.”
It is not the first time Mourinho has publicly criticised his players and the report is stark contrast to earlier in the season when Shaw was blasted by Mourinho following an indifferent display at Watford.