MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – A day after he took on his critics in a news conference diatribe, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho took aim at his players after a lacklustre performance in their 2-0 FA Cup win over Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Mourinho had made little direct criticism of his team after Tuesday’s poor display in the Champions League defeat by Sevilla or on Friday when he defended his work and questioned assumptions about United’s heritage.
But this time his anger was firmly directed at the majority of his players.
“I didn’t like the game. I think we deserved to win because I think the game was in control for the majority, we scored two and they didn’t score, but we didn’t play as I prepared the team to play,” he told BT Sport.
Mourinho singled out midfielder Nemanja Matic, who created the first goal for Romelu Lukaku and added the second himself with a late header, as one of the few players he was satisfied with.
“Many, many times Matic was an island of personality and desire and control, surrounded, not by water but by a lack of personality, class and desire,” said the former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager.
Asked whether he had seen a positive reaction from his players after the Sevilla loss, he said: “I didn’t have the reaction from all of them. I had the reaction from some of them. And because some of them were mentally strong enough and with the football quality to play, was the reason why we won.”
Mourinho showed particular anger that his demand in training for a quicker and more incisive transition game had not been carried out in practice.
“When I spend two days working on this and then I arrive here, attacking players hiding behind defenders, not wanting the ball between the lines, defenders playing just square passes and taking 10 to 12 passes to get from one line to another line I have to feel frustrated,” he said.
“Because I think as a coach the biggest frustration is not the result because sometimes a bad result can happen,” Mourinho added.
“We prepared the team to be more aggressive, to attack the last line much more and that connection between defenders in possession and attacking players didn’t work. I want more personality in the team,” he said.
As well as Matic, Mourinho praised young midfielder Scott McTominay, although even those words were peppered with criticism of others.
“McTominay lost more passes today than in all the matches he played together but he was a Manchester United player. And for me a Manchester United player is a player that, when he plays bad, he gives to the team,” he said.
“The perfect Manchester United player is the one that has quality and personality and is consistent on that. But when you play bad you must have that personality that a kid of 20 years old has – and some of the others didn’t have.”