Premier League

Mourinho: United player criticism "taken out of context"

The Portuguese seemingly took several of his players to task in a recent interview, but he says the comments were not as they seemed.

Mourinho insists his criticism of United players 'taken out of context'

Critical comments about the "character" of several younger Manchester United players attributed to José Mourinho were taken "out of context", according to the Portuguese manager.

Mourinho was interviewed by former Barcelona player Hristo Stoichkov for a Spanish-language website at the end of October, but his comments – translated into English – only began circulating on Friday.

In the interview, Mourinho spoke at length about the maturity – or lack thereof – among young players in modern football, and honed in on Luke Shaw, saying he "didn't know how to compete" before the former Chelsea manager arrived at Old Trafford.

Mourinho also mentioned Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford and suggested they lacked the "character, personality, as they say in Spain as well, bad blood".

But he was in no mood to discuss those comments at his Friday news conference, insisting his remarks were not taken in the way they should have been.

"I don't play your game," Mourinho told reporters. "I don't play the game of the 'take out of context', and do what you want.

"I don't play your game and I have nothing to say. I don't lose my time playing that game. Next question this side, please."

United went into the international break with a number of injury concerns, as Martial, Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku had all been struggling with fitness problems.

And although Rashford has returned from England duty with a slight knock, Mourinho's squad appears to be replenished ahead of hosting Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"Martial stayed with us, he didn't go to the [France] national team," Mourinho said. "The national team was aware of his problems and with permission he stayed, he worked really hard on that.

"I like to kill pre-injuries, because problems in the muscles around it [the hip], they are a dangerous situation and he was in a pre-injury situation.

"He worked really hard, he's ready for [Saturday], he plays. Is he ready to play three in a row in the same week? I don't know, but the most important match is the next.

"Fellaini is going to play. He also stayed, no national team, they also let him stay in spite of playing 90 mins against Manchester City.

"He needed to stay and prepare himself better after such an injury that he had before, so Marouane is also good.

"And the boys in the national teams, Rashford came with a little problem but is ready; Lukaku is ready. I would say ready with a little bit of a risk, but ready.

"And Paul, we knew with this break he would recover from that small muscular injury, so we don't have players I can say are out of the game. We have a huge group [of] 23 to choose for [the match]."