Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho delivered a terse response to questions over comments he made regarding Jesse Lingard, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, and Marcus Rashford in which he was reported to have said that the quartet lacked maturity and character.
” I don’t play your game,” Mourinho said at his pre-match press conference ahead of United’s Saturday fixture against Crystal Palace.
“I don’t play the game of the take out of context and do what you want I don’t play your game and I have nothing to say.”
Barcelona great Hristo Stoichkov had conducted an interview with Mourinho on October 31 for Univision, the quotes of which have been published on Friday.
In the interview, Stoichkov called Mourinho a “very fortunate coach” because of the young players the United manager has at his disposal, referring to them as “diamonds”.
“In your team there are many diamonds. It’s yours and your team’s work. You’ve seen your young lads, your diamonds, what are they missing to be able to compete?” Stoichov asked.
“They are lacking maturity,” Mourinho said in response. “Maturity that when you [Stoichcov] played, I think the youngsters…
“Look at your situation, at my situation,” he said to Stoichkov, who was a Barcelona player when Mourinho was a coach at the Catalan club.
The United manager went on to point out the difference between Stoichkov’s generation and the current crop of young players.
“I wasn’t a player, obviously, but when I say maturity I mean on a personal level. We were more like men. We were more mature. We were more prepared for life. Let’s say it like that. We were less protected.
“In English they call it ‘spoilt’, ‘spoilt kids’. Our kids are more spoilt than we were by our parents.
“We are more mature, we are better prepared. For young people now, it’s a different life on a social level compared to ours.
“Today’s players also in their surroundings, they have a word that was used a lot in Barcelona, entorno [environment] that they use in a more global, holistic sense in relation to the club.
“When I use the word I use it more in relation to a personal environment. To the people who surround the players, who protect them too much, who give them – in my opinion – too much care, too many excuses. There’s always an excuse for everything.
“People are maturing more slowly.
“For example, the young lad Luke Shaw, who is the left-back of the national team, who arrived there [at United] two years before me. He didn’t know how to compete. He had great potential, yes, but he didn’t know how to compete.
“When we talk about Luke Shaw, [Anthony] Martial, [Jesse] Lingard, Marcus Rashford, we’re talking about young lads but who also are still missing a word that I can’t use but you like to use. They are missing a bit of that.
“Character, personality, as they say in Spain as well, bad blood, that natural aggression that you had.”
Since that October 31 sit-down, all four players have been singled out for praise by Mourinho for their recent form.
Other than Lingard, the players mentioned have faced public criticism from the manager previously. Shaw has battled back from that to become United’s first-choice left-back this season, and has earned praise from Mourinho for his form.
Martial, too, has responded to previous criticism by improving on the pitch, and is currently on a run of scoring in five straight Premier League games, and strike partner Rashford also recently ended a long goal drought.
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