Jose Mourinho has warned the likes of Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez that they could lose their places for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham as he gets set to make changes on Wednesday against Bournemouth.
The high-profile pair were among a number of players who turned in disappointing displays in Sunday’s lifeless 1-0 home defeat to the Premier League’s bottom-placed club West Bromwich Albion, and the United manager says he will be shuffling his pack at the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday having called his attacking players "masters of complication" following Sunday's game.
But Mourinho insists he will not be so much rotating against Eddie Howe’s side as he will be looking for better options ahead of the semi-final against Tottenham on Saturday.
“Rotating is not the right word. If I play a player against Bournemouth and the player is phenomenal, he plays the semi-final,” said the Portuguese in a pre-match press conference. “So it’s not rotating because rotating looks like a player that plays against Bournemouth is to give a rest to somebody that is going to play against Spurs in the semi-final.
“So the word is not rotation, the word is an opportunity for some people to play and to try to get a place in the team for Spurs. And some of the guys that played on Sunday, they don’t have a place in that team.”
When asked if players had played their way out of his thinking for the semi-final with their showing against West Brom, he added: “What is the criteria for a manager to choose a team? I only know one criteria, it’s the way you play. That’s the only way I can select players. Or do you want me to go for the price they cost? Or their salary? Or their beautiful face? The only way is to go with performance.”
Pogba returned to United in the summer of 2016 from Juventus for a then-world record £89.5 million, while Sanchez is the highest-paid player in the Premier League with a basic salary of around £350,000 per week. However, both underperformed against West Brom, with Pogba being hauled off after 57 minutes.
Questioned specifically over his disappointment in Pogba’s display, Mourinho went on: “It was not just him, and he had a yellow card so he was in a more difficult position than others. But in terms of the way he played he was not worse than some of the players who were on the pitch for 90 minutes.”
United’s loss on Sunday handed the Premier League title to Manchester City, and the Red Devils still need five points from their remaining five matches to clinch a place in next season’s Champions League.