What next for Smalling and Shaw after Mourinho's snipes?
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has questioned the desire of his key defenders Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, as he accused the duo of refusing to play through the pain barrier in Sunday’s game at Swansea.
In comments that were clearly designed to send a shock wave through the United dressing room, Mourinho went public in his criticism of Smalling and Shaw after they declared themselves unfit to make the trip to the Liberty Stadium.
United stormed to a morale boosting 3-1 win to lift the pressure that has been mounting on Mourinho following his side’s Europa League defeat against Fenerbahce, yet it will be his snipes directed at Smalling and Shaw that will continue to reverberate throughout the upcoming international break.
By insisting he needed to ‘change the culture’ at United, he appeared to put Smalling and Shaw (below) in a difficult position, as offered up these quotes to the media.
“Chris Smalling doesn’t feel he can play 100 per cent with his pain and Luke Shaw this morning told me he was not in condition to play,” stated Mourinho.
“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.
“Of course, it is not just the players, it is the players and the people that surround the players.”
Mourinho went on to suggest he would work to change the attitude of some of the players he has inherited at United, as he spoke optimistically about the task in front of him.
“It takes time, but it will not be an impossible mission,” he added. “We have players with problems, players on the pitch with problems.
“Every sport - and I know that because I have friends from other sports who play at the highest level - you play when you are not 100 per cent.
“I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he remembers more the times he plays in pain than without any pain.
“That’s what I mean, to compete you have to go to the limit. It is a cultural thing for some. But that’s not my culture. And more than me, Manchester United’s (culture).”
It remains to be seen how Smalling and Shaw react to the comments, with Mourinho clearly laying down the gauntlet to the duo to show more eagerness for the fight if they are to remain as part of his plans at United.
The duo have not been included in England's latest squad to face Scotland in a World Cup qualifier next Friday at Wembley.