José Mourinho suggested this week that some of his players are not playing through the pain barrier. This week the Red Thoughts team discuss the team’s attitude and ask, is it good enough?
BETS: It’s been clear for a while that there is a culture of laziness at the club. Worse, they accept defeat. They should be hurting when we lose but they don’t seem to care. How different would football be if players were only paid if they win, and half pay if they draw?
Did you notice Rooney didn’t even celebrate his goal against Fenerbahce? He did a half-hearted fist pump at his team mates after the goal, but you could see it was just for the cameras, just for show. There was no fire in his belly.
I also wonder about Martial as well. All that talent, but no fire in his belly. Ibra doesn’t seem to care much either. I see the 3 amigos caring and trying for the most part, plus Rashford and Darmian. The rest of them need a bloody good kick up the arse.
CARL: Jose has called for more pressing and intensity numerous times in pressers, so I’m sure he tries to convey that to the players behind the scenes too. But it just doesn’t get put into action, therefore what can you do if the players won’t execute it? Jose is in trouble here and we are in danger at this current time. Bottom half of the table is not out of the realms of possibility right now for this season, which is frightening.
RICK: Normally I like Shaw but I laid into him after the Fenerbahce game because he was being lazy and performed extremely poorly. If I were the board, I’d be talking to the players and saying on top of not paying you, I’m fining you every week until you give me a passionate performance. The Fenerbahce game was utter dog shit. Fergie would not stand for it. Look at Mkhi, he finally gets a game and chance to impress but he was shocking and left Darmian all alone on the RW. He never tracked back or helped him out.
CARL: All this talk of Mourinho being outdated is absolute nonsense. What are other sides that are having more success doing that United aren’t? Playing to a higher tempo and a better press, that’s it. Do people really think a manager with the calibre and success of Jose doesn’t realise this and isn’t asking for more? Of course he is. We’ve had this problem for the last three years. We have a mix of lazy players not willing to fight for every ball and players who have fallen into bad habits from past coaches, one in particular. The annoying thing is that even with these issues, we still have enough talent to win plenty of games and be successful if only someone could actually put the ball in the back of the net.
RICK: True professionals have a passion to play and a responsibility to their sport or profession to give their all and make sure they do their job. Footballers get paid a hell of a lot of money. For them to just turn around to the coach and say “I’m not feeling great I can’t play today” is absolutely disgraceful. Players should be fined for things like that. How many sportsmen and women have we heard of playing through pain, taking injections or painkillers and still being able to perform amazingly well? How many times have professionals been injured and still won trophies by battling through those injuries?
For players like Shaw and Smalling especially, being one of our captains and so called leaders, to be so unprofessional is unacceptable. In times like that, the board should take over and dock wages for any player who acts unprofessionally. These overpaid people just act as if they’re untouchable. Their attitude is unacceptable.
BETS: I’m not surprised about Smalling. He’s become a lazy footballer. And maybe the reason Fellaini gets picked so much is that these managers see him as having that determination that others lack.
If Mou chose the team for the Swansea game based on attitude, then it seemed to work, but that is not a good 11. I think we got very lucky because Swansea don’t seem to be playing for Bradley and are currently easily the worst team in the PL. Even then, it took a wonder goal by Pogba to give us the confidence to go on and beat them and our defence, on the odd occasion Swansea managed to mount an attack, looked dreadful. I’m concerned Mou is listing Rooney as one of the ones who has the right attitude – if that signals Rooney’s being recalled to the team then we’re going backwards again. The only reason he looked better was that Swansea stood off us like we were contagious and played at the snail’s pace he’s capable of.
I’m actually more worried after that win than before it, because the players who Mou is saying have the good attitudes – Jones, Young and Rooney – are not good enough to play for Manchester United, Fellaini and Lingard are also I think seen as having good attitudes. If good attitude gets you into the team now, that’s the team we’re looking at.
RICK: I think you have a valid point in that some of the players who have the right attitude aren’t good enough. Although I beg to differ on quite a few. The following players have a good attitude and are good enough: DDG, Herrera, Carrick, Pogba, Ibra, Mata, Young, Rashford, Valencia, Lingard. I know putting in Young and Lingard might raise a few eyebrows but they are good players and Lingard is constantly improving. There are others who may have a good attitude and show good professionalism, but I have a neutral perspective on them as I don’t see them showing passion on the field. They include Blind, Bailly, Darmian, and Fosu Mensah.
TOM: Attitude is a difficult question to answer really, because there is the public/media perception of players’ attitudes and then there is the side we as outsiders don’t see, which is their day to day attitude and influence on the rest of the team. Rooney is a prime example of how those differ – he has pretty much always had a disconnect with the majority of United fans in how we perceive his attitude, but if you listen to the coaches and players (more so in the last few years) he is a great influence and thoroughly professional.
I think once we start having an upturn in results, attitudes will change along with that, it’s a matter of confidence. Some players’ heads just go out of the game in a slump (ridiculous for the money they make, I know, but at the end of the day they are human and subject to the same range of emotions and insecurities we all fall prey to) and if they don’t man up, its up to the players with a solid work ethic to pick up the slack, mentality is just as important as physical fitness and skill.
DAN: I think what Mourinho has done is a good thing in that he hasn’t publicly named any players, the media has had a guess, but it’s right. He is showing the players, look I am the boss and these are my standards – you are either with me or against me. As a football club we have to set high standards for players’ attitudes and performances. It will affect the players one of two ways – they will step up and be counted or sulk and move on. I hope it’s the former, because the “rumoured” players are great players.
RICK: When RVP joined us he stated that the atmosphere was completely different to Arsenal or wherever else he’s been. He said winning was an addiction and the passion to win which came from the dressing room was so infectious and strong that it made him feel like if United lost a game it was a massive disappointment, and every trophy there was, United must win it, if not then it was seen as a failure. I just think that attitude is completely different than the one these players in the current squad seem to have.
TOM: Yeah I totally agree that the attitude is different to that winning mentality we’ve had for so long, but a lot of that was down to stability and the fact that SAF wouldn’t have it any other way. There has been a lot of movement at every level of the club over the past few years with instability on and off the pitch, with personnel and playing styles. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Mou’s appointment, but he is a proven winner and given time he’ll get the lads where he wants them both mentally and physically.
FAB: Jose Mourinho has a strange way of doing things and he keeps getting questioned for everything he does. One of the biggest issues he’s had at previous clubs is the players’ commitment towards the club. Mourinho’s favourite players are warriors that would follow him straight into hell if necessary. That’s the reason he keeps praising the same players in his press conferences. Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones (this weekend) are the players that Jose likes to work with. Yes, we have previously all agreed that Lingard isn’t and probably won’t become a football superstar like Pogba, but he is a team player who fights for the team. His commitment was put into question after that performance vs City but he fought back and has played, unlike Mkhitaryan. If reports are true, Mkhi responded in a completely different way to Lingard and made a transfer request after that loss. Imagine, in September…
I remember the problem we had with Rooney when he wanted to leave. It’s the same with Mkhitaryan. Look, Mkhitaryan is a great player and I understand the #FreeMkhitaryan campaigners in their frustration, but I do understand Jose as well. You can’t trust a player who goes crying to Woodward after a few words of criticism from the manager.
Matteo Darmian is another who Jose said in his press conference is there when we need him. As for Shaw, there have been reports that he too has gone and put in a transfer request. I am not surprised that the media has started with this, but Luke should put a stop to these rumours.
RICK: I’m a bit surprised about Smalling. But this season he hasn’t performed the way he did last season, and doesn’t seem right. As for Shaw, ever since Mourinho criticised him the first time and dropped him for Blind, his attitude has not been right for a professional player. It’s been a case of “I’m gonna winge like a kid and not act like a professional playing for he biggest club in the world”. He is an adult, he should grow a pair and act like one. Perform like he’s paid to do. Not sulk and pull sickies. Other clubs will look at that as well and not want him at their club either. A player should be able to take criticism and stand up and be counted. There is not a manager under the sun who criticises his players for them to become worse. He does it so they learn and perform better than they were before and so improve and become better players. Not for them to sulk so he has to bench them and, worse case scenario, sell them because they just won’t perform and do their job.