Jose Mourinho unhappy with the mentality of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling


Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has been hit hard with injuries this season with eight players who were either out of action leading up to the 1-1 draw with Swansea City at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon or coming off injured during that match. At this moment in time, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are on the sidelines with Bailly and Shaw both limping off against Swansea. Juan Mata was part of the matchday squad but was not utilised with the Spanish midfielder making himself an option in an already depleted United squad. Ahead of the Manchester derby, which United earned a 0-0 draw in, Mourinho did call on both Jones and Smalling to make themselves available for the match, which would not only boost his defensive options, with just Bailly and Daley Blind as the experienced members with Axel Tuanzebe promoted from the U23’s, it would also boost the team. Did they answer the call though, No!

Ahead of the derby last Thursday evening, Mourinho praised Eric Bailly after his heroics against Burnley last weekend then suggested that if he was Smalling or Jones, he would play against City at the Etihad on Thursday. That was a suggestion that both were fit, or as close as damn it, calling for them to come in and help their team in a match which saw United with not enough on the pitch to get a result the desperately needed. Mourinho said:

“Eric Bailly was incredible. If I was Smalling or Jones, I would play Thursday. I wouldn’t accept one guy to play nine matches in a row because I am injured. If they have a crazy mentality like I have [they can play]. If they are safe thinking and are surrounded by people with the mentality they have, it is more time.”

Speaking after Sunday’s 1-1 draw to Swansea City at Old Trafford, Mourinho who had seen both Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly come off injured with Shaw likely to be a big injury, suggested that he did not want to speak about both Jones and Smalling, preferring to speak about Juan Mata, who made himself available ahead of the visit of the Welsh Premier League strugglers. Mourinho said:

“I don’t know about the injuries. I think Luke Shaw’s must be a big injury because to leave the pitch after 10 minutes I am expecting a very big injury. At the moment, we cannot walk from the bed to the toilet without breaking a leg. I prefer not to speak about Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. I prefer to speak about Juan Mata giving everything to be available. I am grateful for that. We will give everything on Thursday. That is sure. Whether we go to the final or not doesn’t matter, I am really happy with the guys.”

Mourinho has criticised players this season, many have moaned about him doing this publicly, even Teddy Sheringham has suggested that Sir Alex Ferguson never did this, which is a changing of history for the treble winner. Mourinho has brought out the best of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, brought some impressive displays from Anthony Martial, who is still a work in progress and he gave Luke Shaw a lifeline with him performing well earlier in the month, then coming off injured against Swansea on Sunday. The criticism does tend to work, if not it allows you to see the men from the boys. The players who have been criticised this season have seemingly stood up and made themselves counted, some are still doing this. Mourinho is not an idiot and will know the progress of his players, so if Jones and Smalling were a month away from fitness, he may not have said anything.

Look at what Juan Mata did, Mourinho previously ruled him out for the remainder of the season, then in his blog published nearly a week ago, Mata suggested he could be back sooner, which came this weekend, despite him not getting onto the pitch, he will be a contender to face Celta de Vigo on Thursday night in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League semi-final. Smalling and Jones, however, will remain on the sidelines, doing what they are currently doing, earning bags of cash at the same time, giving nothing to the team which could do with them in it to add some strength, especially with Marcos Rojo, one of the most improves players this season, seeing his season ended prematurely just over a week ago against Anderlecht. Eric Bailly did not look happy with his fitness when he came off on Sunday against Swansea, which could be a blow for United, which I am sure will be confirmed in the coming days. United will travel to Spain on Tuesday or Wednesday in order to be ready for their match on Thursday, so I am sure Mourinho will confirm if Bailly will travel or be involved in the team – hopefully, he will.

Phil Jones signed for Manchester United for around £17 million in the summer of 2011, meaning this will be his sixth season playing for the Old Trafford club. During that time, Jones has suffered 15 separate injuries, keeping him out for a total of 569 days (up until Sunday 30th April 2017). This is an average of 38 days out per injury. In total, during the course of his various injuries, Jones has missed 105 matches for United, including the 1-1 draw against Swansea City. Jones was a player many had high hopes for. It was thought he may have turned a corner this season, seemingly avoiding injury, but that did not happen, unfortunately. Chris Smalling signed for United the year before Jones, signing at the start of the 2010/11 season at a cost of around £7 million. Smalling has suffered eight separate injuries, sitting out of action for 261 days, averaging 33 days per injury. Smalling missed a total of 54 matches, up to Sunday 30th April 2017. Between the two of them, Smalling ad Jones have missed a total of 830 days, missing a total of 159 matches for the club in seven and six seasons, respectively. Looking at what is expected from Manchester United players, both need to be shipped out in the summer.

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