- Getty Images
"Oh my God! They should all explain the lack of attitude!"
After the 2-1 loss at Huddersfield which first cut them significantly adrift of Manchester City in October, Mourinho complained about his players' lack of attitude.
“[Huddersfield] played like I like, and how it has to be. They played with everything: aggression, desire, motivation, sacrifice. They played with everything, and we didn’t.
“They beat us on attitude. When I lose matches I like to lose matches because the opponent was better than us, and had more quality than us. When you lose a football match because of attitude, that’s really bad.
“I heard that Ander Herrera is in the flash interviews and he’s saying that the attitude and the desire was poor. Oh my God! When a player says that, and when a player feels that, I think they should all go to the press conference and explain why because I can’t explain.”
"He was disappearing"
The writing was on the wall for Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Manchester United after he was left out of a string of fixtures in the autumn. When asked about the Armenian's absence, Mourinho didn't hold back with his assessment.
“I was not happy with his last performances and I am not speaking about one or two, I am speaking about three, four or five. He started the season very well and after that step by step he was disappearing.
"His performance levels in terms of goalscoring, assists, high pressing, recovery of the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a number 10, were decreasing step by step.“There came a time when that was enough because the others work to have a chance, everybody works to have a chance, so it’s as simple as that.”
- Michael Regan
"Some players will make childish decisions their whole careers"
United threw away two points in December with the late concession of a goal to Harry Maguire at Leicester City in a 2-2 draw despite having earlier dominated. Maguire's ability to capitalise on the space left by an injured Chris Smalling infuriated Mourinho, who blamed his "childish" players for not reacting.
“I had the chance to speak to Ashley Young and to tell him the way the team had to be in position because of Smalling’s difficulty. But I think [there was] a lack of maturity because I cannot stop the game and give a team talk for the last two minutes. The players have to immediately adapt and to read the game, which they didn’t.“So we had childish decisions in front of goal, bad decisions. Not just goals we missed, but also easy decisions to make… Some players they have childish decisions and time helps them to have maturity. But some players stay with childish decisions until the end of their careers.”
- Getty Images
"Four mistakes after 15 seconds"
It took Christian Eriksen less than 11 seconds to score the opening goal against United in January, and following the eventual 2-0 Tottenham win Mourinho spoke of his fury at the string of mistakes his players made in the build-up to the first goal.
“I don’t think it’s very normal to concede a goal after 15 seconds. After kick-off is ridiculous, especially ridiculous because the players watched it beforehand. We analyse opponents, we work on opponents’ dynamic and routines, the players knew the long ball, they knew Harry Kane, they knew everything.
“And then we don’t press the ball: one mistake. We don’t win the ball in the air: second mistake. We don’t win the second ball on the ground: third mistake. We don’t cover the full-back inside when Eriksen comes: four mistakes. Four mistakes after 15 seconds and you are losing 1-0 against a good team.”
"Two of my players stood and watched"
A 1-0 defeat to Newcastle in February was particularly galling for Mourinho, who refused to hide his dismay at Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic for failing to challenge Florian Lejeune in the air in the build-up to Matt Ritchie's winning goal.
“It’s a lateral free-kick, it’s not even a lateral free-kick from a dangerous position, it’s really far from the goal. Clearly the players know the positions they have to be in, but we miss the challenge in the air. I remember clearly without television a Newcastle player jumping and two of my players looking at him and staying on the floor.
“We train, we work, we organise, the players have individual jobs in situations where we defend zonal. The players know their responsibilities, but I’m pretty sure that you have watched that goal on television a few times, so you know more than me who lost the challenge in the air. It’s better if you don’t put me in a position where I have to criticise a player, you can make your analysis.”
Pogba was replaced immediately after the goal.
- Getty Images
"Many Sevilla players would play in my team"After the season-defining Champions League exit to Sevilla in March, Mourinho refused to accept that United had gone out to inferior opposition and claimed he had been given bad tools with which to work. First he analysed United's underwhelming European record of late, then he ripped into into his players...
“Do you think Sevilla didn’t have players that would play direct in my team? In Sevilla there are many players that would play in my team. I told you we are not one of the top teams, we are not one of the favourites to win. I cannot go there and say we have no chance to win the Champions League. I couldn’t tell you!“It’s the same thing: You can’t expect me to say ‘this player’ and ‘that player’ they have to do better. You cannot expect me to say. So I prefer to say that Matic and Lukaku are performing at a high level since day one until the last match. I cannot tell you the ones that are not performing.”
- Getty Images
"Matic was surrounded by a lack of personality, class and desire"
Despite beating Brighton 2-0 in the FA Cup quarter-final just days after their Champions League setback Mourinho fired at his players with both barrels in his post-match interviews, with only Nemanja Matic escaping criticism.
“We didn’t play the way I wanted the players to play. I didn’t get the reactions from all of them. I got the reaction from some of them, and because some of them were mentally strong enough and with the football quality to play that’s the reason why we won.
“But in a team of 11 when you don’t have a minimum of six or seven players performing and wanting to play, wanting the responsibility of having the ball, showing the desire to play, it’s difficult to have the performance.
“When I spend two days on a faster build-up and the ball arriving earlier in attacking areas, when I spend two days working on this and arrive here to see attacking players hiding behind defenders, not wanting the ball in between the lines, defenders taking square passes, I have to feel frustrated.
“Matic was an island of personality, of desire, of control, surrounded by a lack of personality, lack of class, lack of desire.”
- Getty Images
"I had to change one full-back, and Luke Shaw didn't impress in attack or defence"
Following the same Brighton cup-tie, Mourinho was asked why Luke Shaw had been removed at half-time. The England full-back had been the subject of his ire regularly in 2016-17 but seemed to be edging his way back into regular contention before the Portuguese slammed his performance in both halves of the pitch.
“My reasons behind it is that we work on the [training] pitch on certain kinds of movement where, for me, it was really important for the two full-backs to be aggressive and to be in front and to create space for Matic and Scott to be in front of the two central defenders. And I didn’t have that with Luke and with Antonio Valencia, with both of them.“I didn’t change both because it’s too aggressive to do it because then I only have one more change in the 90 minutes. I had to change one of them and I decide Luke because at least Antonio defensively was capable of some good positioning. Luke in the first half, every time they went in his corridor a cross was coming and a dangerous situation was coming so I was not happy with the performance.”
- OLI SCARFF
“When it’s dark and cold, some don't have the confidence or personality”
Mourinho wasn't done there after the Brighton game. After publicly decrying Scott McTominay's performance, he went on suggest that many of his players' attitudes change depending on the side's fortunes.
And when asked whether he might provoke ill feeling by questioning his players so openly, he claimed he had been left with little option.
“My calculation is that without pressure they don’t perform well so what can I lose? The ones that are always there are the ones that will be always there.
“[McTominay] was not afraid to play. He played bad, but every player can play bad. But to feel uncomfortable to play – ‘Please ‘Mister’, take me from the pitch’ – I felt that, so I have nothing to lose in relation to that.
“When the sun is shining in football and everything is going well, you win matches, you score goals and everything goes in your direction, every player is a good player, and every player wants to play, and every players wants the ball, and every player is confident to play and every player looks amazing.“When it’s dark and cold, and that in football means a period of bad results like has happened to us, not everyone has the confidence or the personality to play really.”
"Selection by cost, salary or beauty? I select by performance"
Sunday's 1-0 reverse to West Bromwich Albion not only meant the end of United's slim hopes of keeping Manchester City from winning the Premier League title, it also opened the way for Mourinho to make significant changes against Bournemouth on Wednesday.
And the manager also warned that Saturday's FA Cup semi-final could be off limits for many of those who under-performed against the Baggies, including high-profile players like Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba.
“Some of the guys that played today, they don’t have a place in that team.
"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.”