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Pundits & Shaw v Mourinho? So explain Rojo, Lingard Man Utd success stories...

COMMENT: Just sell him, so Jose Mourinho told Ed Woodward, Manchester United's vice-chairman exec, of his left-back. The offer was there. It was good money. And Mourinho just didn't rate this Louis van Gaal signing...

...but Marcos Rojo - yes Rojo, not Luke Shaw - had other ideas. He didn't want to leave United - especially for China. Shanghai SIPG had tabled £12m for the Argentina international. They were willing to go to £18m to convince United to sell. But Mourinho didn't need any convincing. He wanted to move Rojo out and bring a replacement - an upgrade, so he believed - in.

It's 18 months now, but confidants of Mourinho told this column he couldn't see Rojo being a success in England. He'd tapped friends at Sporting CP about the defender - and the feedback was positive. But Mourinho just couldn't see Rojo, with his physique, being a success as a Premier League centre-half. And at left-back, again, the manger didn't regard him as nimble enough to compete at the level where he wanted to take his United team.

But Rojo dug in. Even if the offer from Shanghai outstripped what he was currently on, he didn't want to go. At the time, Rojo's stubbornness didn't impress Mourinho. He was frustrated. The Argie was holding up his plans. But the 2016 summer market shut with Rojo still a United player.

Why the history lesson? Well, in the week where it all kicked off again between Mourinho and Shaw, Rojo was being rewarded with a new, three-year contract. The man who Mourinho had pushed to be rid of upon arrival had convinced his manager he was worth another three years at the club.

The manager had changed his mind. First impressions were smashed. Even if these last 18 months had been punctuated by injury, Mourinho valued Rojo's character and quality - on and off the pitch. The player had won him around. So much for being stuck in his ways...

Which is what has been thrown at Mourinho over the past fortnight regarding his relationship with Shaw. Apparently he's long wanted to dump the England left-back. He's held a grudge since Shaw chose United over his Chelsea when leaving Southampton three years ago. He's never forgiven him, they say. Never given the lad a chance, they claim. Yet in contrast, how do you explain Rojo's redemption? Or better yet, how do all these ex-players throw spite at the United manager while ignoring the mounting evidence of why Mourinho and Shaw just aren't getting along?

“He does make you pull your hair out at times," says Jason Dodd, Shaw's former youth coach at Southampton.

"He is a fantastic player, but if you have to question some of it – his drive, training everyday, and giving absolutely everything."

Or what about from Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson, who worked with Shaw as England manager?

On his work ethic, Hodgson stated: "He might have had it mentioned to him a couple of times during the World Cup by people like myself and [physio] Gary Lewin."

Hodgson would even let slip that Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, then in charge of Saints, was of same mind when it came to Shaw's fitness work.

And Van Gaal? Well, he said: "He needs to be fit and is not very fit or fit enough to do what I want. He needs to train individually until he is fit."

So four different managers, all backing up an exasperated Mourinho. Yet, it's the United manager who's getting it in the neck. Accused of bullying. Of destroying a young lad's career. Even with all this evidence, it is Mourinho who has it wrong.

But forget about Rojo. What about someone closer to home?

Because how do those who claim Mourinho is purely a chequebook fiend. A manager who buys talent and never develops it. How do they explain Jesse Lingard this season?

They were quoting £100m for Dele Alli six months ago. Some even £150m. Yet on Tuesday night, Lingard was selected - on merit - ahead of the Tottenham midfielder for the draw with Italy. There's no arguing this one: the local lad. The English lad. He's playing the best football of his career. And it's been achieved under Mourinho.

It's the Portuguese who has fulfilled the predictions of Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul McGuinness and Paul Scholes. They all tipped Lingard for the top, but warned we wouldn't see him anywhere near his best until his mid-20s. And it is under Mourinho that this happened.

In Rojo's case, the manager allowed his opinion to be changed. For Lingard, it is with Mourinho's coaching that he's found himself an England first-choice. And in both instances, it is the players' willingness to meet their manager's demands which have been rewarded.

Luke Shaw has the best job in the world: paid a fortune just to keep fit. That's the fundamentals. Yet, from five different managers, he just doesn't want to do that.

Rather than spit their spite at Jose Mourinho, those pundits so appalled by his treatment of Shaw should stop surface dwelling and explore why the United manager isn't the only one left exasperated by his left-back's attitude.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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