Mou blasts lay bare Man United ten­sions

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

MANCH­ESTER United man­ager Jose Mour­inho’s man-man­age­ment skills are un­der scru­tiny af­ter he ap­peared to pub­licly ac­cuse de­fend­ers Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling of ma­lin­ger­ing.

While not men­tion­ing ei­ther player by name, Mour­inho ex­pressed un­hap­pi­ness af­ter the pair missed United’s 3-1 win at Swansea City on Sun­day, sug­gest­ing they had shown a lack of brav­ery.

Some Bri­tish news­pa­pers re­ported yes­ter­day that Shaw and Smalling were now “fight­ing for their fu­tures” at Old Traf­ford.

Left-back Shaw (21) was said to be “baf­fled” over his treat­ment by Mour­inho, who suc­ceeded Louis van Gaal as United man­ager in May.

The Eng­land in­ter­na­tional re­cently spent 11 months on the side­lines af­ter sus­tain­ing a hor­rific dou­ble leg frac­ture in a Cham­pi­ons League game at PSV Eind­hoven in Septem­ber last year.

He has been in and out of the team since mak­ing his first-team come­back in Au­gust and is re­ported to have felt pain in the leg he broke dur­ing last Thurs­day’s Europa League de­feat at Fener­bahce.

Mour­inho said Shaw had in­formed him he was un­able to play against Swansea on the morn­ing of the game.

But the for­mer Southamp­ton player is not thought to have trav­elled down to South Wales with the rest of the squad on the eve of the match.

Mour­inho also sin­gled Shaw out for crit­i­cism fol­low­ing United’s 3-1 de­feat at Wat­ford in Septem­ber, af­ter which it emerged the full-back had been play­ing with a groin prob­lem.

“Our left-back is 25 me­tres’ dis­tance from him, in­stead of five,” Mour­inho said af­ter Shaw failed to close down Nordin Am­ra­bat in the build-up to Wat­ford’s sec­ond goal.

Smalling (26) has tended to start for Mour­inho when fit, but the Por­tuguese ap­pears to have lost pa­tience with the Eng­land cen­tre-back, who has missed four games with a foot in­jury.

Both Shaw and Smalling are thought to have played with pain-killing in­jec­tions al­ready this sea­son and in­terim Eng­land man­ager Gareth South­gate has de­fended them against ac­cu­sa­tions they lack heart.

Asked if the pair are “a bit flaky”, South­gate told re­porters at Eng­land’s St Ge­orge’s Park train­ing base: “I don’t know Chris well. That wouldn’t be my im­pres­sion, hav­ing worked with him.

“Luke I know well and Luke’s had a re­ally tough in­jury. Very of­ten it’s easy to look from the out­side or make judg­ments on peo­ple with­out know­ing them re­ally, re­ally well.”

Shaw and Smalling were both left out of South­gate’s squad for Eng­land’s World Cup qual­i­fier against Scot­land on Fri­day and next week’s friendly with Spain.

The Sun re­ported United’s se­nior play­ers have ac­cepted Mour­inho’s hard­line stance over Shaw and Smalling.

Mour­inho was hired to re­store some of United’s fad­ing lus­tre af­ter three sea­sons of un­der­achieve­ment un­der David Moyes and Van Gaal.

He no­to­ri­ously thrives on con­flict and is renowned for pub­licly re­buk­ing play­ers to test their men­tal for­ti­tude.

It was an ap­proach that worked won­ders in his first spell at Chelsea, where play­ers like John Terry, Frank Lam­pard and Didier Drogba be­came un­flinch­ing al­lies.

Terry, who re­mains at Chelsea, is known for putting his body on the line and said in 2010 that he been tak­ing anti-in­flam­ma­tory in­jec­tions prior to games for five years.

Re­call­ing an in­jury he sus­tained dur­ing a match against United in April 2006 that left his an­kle “pour­ing with blood”, he told the Daily Mail Mour­inho “wouldn’t even look at me”.

But there is a feel­ing Mour­inho’s meth­ods are not as ef­fec­tive on the younger, more mol­ly­cod­dled gen­er­a­tion of play­ers he has en­coun­tered in his sec­ond spell at Chelsea and now at United. Bel­gium in­ter­na­tion­als Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku both failed to win Mour­inho’s trust at Chelsea, but are now thriv­ing else­where — De Bruyne at Manch­ester City, Lukaku at Ever­ton.

With United a lowly sixth in the Premier League ta­ble, eight points adrift of lead­ers and arch-ri­vals Liver­pool, the club’s fans must hope Mour­inho’s for­mula has not passed its sell-by date.

— AFP

Jose Mour­inho

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