Man Utd news: Jose Mourinho has players running scared with pre-season meltdown
The United boss has cut an angry and frustrated figure on the club’s US tour, with players, staff and officials said to be on edge around him.
Mourinho singled out Anthony Martial and Antonio Valencia for criticism on tour, his cutting remarks on the former causing concern among club staff.
The United boss gave an interview to MUTV in which he claimed Martial, who left the US for the birth of his second child, should have rejoined the tour after his son was born.
United were concerned at the potential inflammatory effect of the remarks, but they were broadcast before they could be vetoed, with club sources since claiming there was no problem with them being aired.
One senior United player was so concerned about Mourinho’s reaction to an interview he gave on tour, he insisted his answer to one question was pulled to avoid further antagonising his boss.
Against that backdrop, the United hierarchy, led by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, have become increasingly concerned at the negative tone set by Mourinho ahead of a crucial season for the club.
Mourinho has moaned during United’s tour about the lack of players at his disposal and the perceived failure of Woodward to land all of his summer transfer targets, and has cut a disillusioned figure throughout.
It was clear Mourinho wanted to make a point regarding Martial, who he felt could have rejoined the United squad in Michigan or Miami following the birth of his son last week.
Manchester City’s Fabian Delph flew home from Russia midway through the World Cup for the birth of his third daughter last month and rejoined the England squad within 48 hours.
But Martial has failed to return, despite the fact Mourinho is without a recognised striker, with Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford on post-World Cup breaks.
Mourinho then took aim at skipper Valencia, criticising his physical condition and claiming the full-back had enjoyed “too much holiday” after having to return home injured after the second game of the US tour.
The United boss also wrote off the youngsters on tour, who have been forced to fill the void left by the absent established stars, by stating most of them will be shipped out on loan next season.
Mourinho’s mood was not helped by the enforced loss of Nemanja Matic, who joined up with the squad in Los Angeles only to be unable to train and require abdominal surgery in Philadelphia, ruling him out for weeks.
That means Matic, along with Valencia, will miss the start of the season, while Mourinho has a total of 17 players unavailable due to injury or extended post-World Cup breaks.
After United’s emphatic 4-1 defeat to arch rivals Liverpool in Michigan, Mourinho then effectively branded the US tour as being worthless to him.
With so many players absent, Mourinho claimed it was “not our team” and put the boot into the International Champions Cup by saying he would not buy a ticket for United’s games if he was a fan, because so many high-profile players are missing.
That was on top of Mourinho criticising Woodward for failing to land all of his transfer targets and branding the referee and his assistants “baseball officials” in the wake of the Liverpool defeat.
But he did find support from one unlikely source yesterday – International Champions Cup organiser Charlie Stillitano.
“I understand his point,” said Stillitano. “There are challenges in a World Cup year. It gets later and later, the season seem to get earlier and earlier and it’s really a challenge for everyone. I think he was just voicing that frustration.
“We are looking at changing the format next year but it’s a bit cyclical anyway. We might tweak the format, but it’s not a World Cup year, everyone is excited to come and I don’t think we will have anything near the same problem.
“I feel like I am president of the Jose Mourinho fan club. There’s probably not a lot a members today.
“I understand the manager, he is frustrated. It was a tough game [against Liverpool] – 100,000 people there to see you lose to your biggest rival.
“Jose has been one of the managers, maybe the top manager – him and Sir Alex Ferguson – to propel this tournament to a new level. I have nothing but admiration for him and what he does. Not just Jose, but all the managers will be happy to have their full team with them.”