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Mourinho v his 4 'scared' kids: Why Jose stitched up by those who should know better

COMMENT: Was it boring? Yes. Did he get the team selection wrong? Yes. Is he to blame after hanging four of his young guns out to dry? An emphatic... NO.

Yes, for Manchester United fans, Saturday's stalemate with Crystal Palace was underwhelming. Bearing all the hallmarks of a post-international week game. And yes, Jose Mourinho, it can be argued, was wrong to recall the out-of-sorts Romelu Lukaku, benching Marcus Rashford in the process. But the idea that this 0-0 result was self-inflicted. That Mourinho only has himself to blame after that Univision interview. Well, that is just ridiculous.

But that's what is being peddled by some - who should know better - in the aftermath. The players basically downed tools. Rashford, Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard. All slated - apparently - by Mourinho on the eve of Palace's trip to Old Trafford. And so, in reaction, they chucked it. Well, that is, according to United's Champions League winner Rio Ferdinand.

Only thing is, everything claimed about the interview is wrong. As Mourinho complained on Friday, "context" matters.

It's a good show, BT Sport's Premier League Tonight, and it's well worth chasing down, no matter where you are in the world. But Ferdinand on Saturday night was so, so wrong trying to dig out Mourinho, it was just, as we've said, ridiculous...

"When you get comments that come out the club, in an interview during the week, where he's hammering four or five young players, saying their mentality isn't right, what do you expect?" Ferdinand confidently declared.

"Do you expect to have the players onside or do you expect the players to sit there and think the manager is hammering me in public again?"

Well, the interview wasn't held last week. It was staged on October 31 - yes last month - between Mourinho and one of his great early rivals (we'll speak to that later) Hristo Stoichkov. Need proof? Just check the timestamp on Nemanja Matic's snap with the Bulgarian we covered on the first day of this month.

And in nowhere during the chat - and it was an engaging, laid back chat between two of the game's greats - did Mourinho take aim at his players' character nor their courage. Instead, that was somehow magicked up and inserted by the English press on Friday.

In Hristo Stoichkov, in terms of the media side of the game, Univision have pulled off the signing of the season. And their beancounters will be delighted seeing a month-old interview still generating interest across the world. Using his profile, Stoichkov has landed the likes of Mourinho and Pep Guardiola for extended one-on-one chats. He even threw a Barcelona presser into a spin when asking Ernesto Valverde for a job! And today, we're still poring over what he and Mourinho discussed at Carrington almost four weeks ago - and nowhere did the Portuguese slate his players.

Instead, he conversation meandered to managing today's young player, with Mourinho stating: "We were both more mature and more prepared to face life, because we were less protected, in England they called them (young people) spoiled. Today they are spoiled children. I think kids today have a social life different from ours and players have around them a personal 'entourage' of people, who protect them too much, give them more affection and more excuses. Players reach maturity more slowly."

Then he came to Luke Shaw.

"For example, this kid, Luke Shaw, who is now the left-back of the English team, when I came here two years ago, he did not know how to compete, he had great potential, but he did not know how to compete."

So nothing new there. Mourinho simply discussing what he made of Shaw when he first arrived - and the recalled England international he now sees today.

The manager went on.

"Martial, Lingard, Rashford, we are talking about young people with great potential, but who are missing a word that I cannot say, but that you (Stoichkov) like a lot ... they lack some of that. They say in Spain, bad blood, that natural aggression you (referring to Stoichkov) had."

Mourinho was then quick to make clear he wasn't talking about his players' character or behaviour, but their "fibre". The sort of difference you see in the personality of a young Argentine or Brazilian, whose journey has taken him from the streets of his hometown to the other side of the world and the warrior spirit needed to make that happen.

Or better yet, the sort of character which saw Stoichkov wind-up Mourinho for months and months when the pair were together at Barcelona. Branding Sir Bobby Robson's hire the "translator". But the idea of a grudge or resentment never came into being. Instead the two are now great friends and confidants.

Mourinho wasn't attacking his players. He was stating a fact of circumstance. Simply the bleedin' obvious. So obvious in fact, that Ferdinand made the very same point on the very same show on Saturday.

Having had his misinformed Mourinho rant, Ferdinand - with Joe Cole sat next to him in the BT studio - went onto to compare him with another of their former West Ham teammates, Terrell Forbes. Ferdinand arguing that where Cole's character helped push him along as a teenager, Forbes, for all his natural ability, was too polite and tentative to grab his chance when it came. Ferdinand wasn't attacking Forbes as a man, he was simply pointing out how the game - as it's structured - can suit different personalities... Just (oh irony of ironies) as Mourinho was a month ago... You cannot make this stuff up.

Which, knowing Ferdinand, wasn't trying to do. But he does need to do better. His audience deserves it.

As does the current Manchester United manager, no matter what you're feeling about his selection and tactics for Palace on Saturday.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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