Manchester United might have won 2-0 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarterfinal match on Saturday night, but the post-match events have been far more interesting for everyone. The match itself was mostly dull and uneventful, as Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic scored to brush Brighton aside.
Yet, what happened afterwards was far more telling of the situation in the club. Jose Mourinho’s press conference consisted of some very strong words, targeting, in his own words, every single player except for Nemanja Matic. However, one name certainly had to be dropped and unsurprisingly, it was that of Luke Shaw.
Shaw Is The Scapegoat
The left-back has been Mourinho’s scapegoat ever since the Portuguese arrived at the club. Right from the start he was publicly very critical of the player, mentioning different problems. It would be Shaw’s diet, commitment or displays on the pitch.
Jose Mourinho might be right for some of the things. After all, we are not present at team’s practices and we do not know what happens behind closed doors. Yet, there is a strong sense amongst the public that Mourinho often goes too far with the left-back.
This was at least fourth time when Mourinho made a criticism of Shaw public, this time talking about the player being poor in every department.
“It’s my decision. My reason is that we work on the pitch on certain kinds of movement, with the two full-backs being aggressive to make space for Matic & McTominay. I couldn’t change them both, I decided Luke because Antonio was at least capable defensively”, Mourinho said post-match.
And this quote is quite telling. Mourinho implied that both Shaw and Valencia did not do well and from this point of view, it is logical for Shaw to be substituted as Valencia is more of a leader and an experienced player. However, the way he criticized the Englishman was exactly how he later on described Shaw and the rest of the team.
“Matic was an island of personality of desire, of control… Surrounded by lack of personality, lack of class.”
Exactly, Mourinho was the one lacking class in his criticism of Shaw. Even if Shaw did not do well and even if he was not even “at least capable defensively”, there was no real need for Mourinho to go this far.
Mourinho’s Nervousness Is Growing
This match was comfortably won, even if not with great performance, but it was far from the first time this season. There was no obvious reason for the manager being so aggressive in his assessment of Shaw’s display and it points more to his frustrations following the loss to Sevilla.
Mourinho wanted his team to show a great performance and prove to everyone that the loss in Champions League was just a terrible slip up. Yet, what he really proved was that he was nervous, trying to find culprits for the poor performances in individuals from his side, instead of looking at deeper problems.
Asked after the match if this public criticism could be a risk, Mourinho had an answer.
“Yes, but if they do not perform well, what can I lose?”
With time, he could lose the dressing room. After all, it already happened at Chelsea in his previous job when he grew unaware of his toxic public criticism.