Jose Mourinho has explained how he dealt with Phil Jones after the defender gave away a goal during Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Stoke City.
The 25-year-old, following an imposing start to the campaign, lacked composure alongside Eric Bailly and let Jean-Eric Choupo-Moting slip from his grasp to bring the scores level just six minutes after Romelu Lukaku gave Man United the lead.
He was criticised by supporters in the aftermath but Mourinho has confirmed that he will be restored to the starting XI for Sunday’s clash with Everton.
And the 54-year-old, speaking ahead of his side’s meeting with Ronald Koeman’s side, noted that he didn’t need to remind Jones of – or punish him for – the mistake he made at the Bet365 Stadium.
“His [Fellaini’s at Everton] mistake last year was the kind of mistake I accept,” he said. “I accept a goalkeeper concedes a bad goal, a player misses a penalty, gives one away. I accept individual mistakes.
“What I did with him was what I do normally with every player – like Jones. He made a bad mistake for Stoke’s second goal. Is he going to be on the bench on Sunday? No.
“That’s how I do it. That’s what I did with Fellaini. The players don’t need any more criticism than they get from fans or the media. It’s just about being pragmatic.”
Remember Guillermo Varela? The Uruguayan full-back made a mistake against Liverpool that cost Man United their place in the Europa League, positioning himself all wrong as Coutinho skipped past him to score, and he was hooked off at half time by Louis van Gaal.
That was his last United appearance. The Dutchman employed the opposite tactic to Mourinho and it effectively ended his career at the highest level.
Imagine if Mourinho had done the same with Marouane Fellaini following that mistake against Everton. Nobody would have blamed him. But the Portuguese stuck with his player and is now reaping the benefits – a prime example of the attitudinal transformation at the club that has occurred since his arrival.