Friday 15 December 2017

Jose Mourinho criticises media 'sources' and refuses to answer questions on Chris Smalling saga

Jose Mourinho's Man Utd face Arsenal this Saturday. CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Jose Mourinho's Man Utd face Arsenal this Saturday. CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

James Ducker and Giles Mole

Jose Mourinho insists he has already drawn a line under the Wayne Rooney controversy and claimed the Manchester United and England captain is desperate to start at home to Arsenal tomorrow lunchtime.

Rooney issued a publicly apology this week after photographs were published in The Sun newspaper apparently showing the striker worse for wear after drinking until the early hours on Sunday at England’s team hotel in Hertfordshire.      

Mourinho refused to criticise Rooney’s behaviour publicly, which came 24 hours after England’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying win against Scotland, and insisted his captain was ready and available for selection against Arsenal, despite being hampered by a swollen knee that kept him out of England’s friendly against Spain on Tuesday.

“Over the last two or three days nothing happened, he trained, like everybody else, he wants to play, like everybody else. He’s ready, what happened in the national team happened in the national team,” the United manager said. “I don’t comment. My players when they go to the national team they belong to the national team.

“What happens there for good or for bad, I don’t interfere. Sometimes they come back stronger than when they left us because something good happened there, something positive, a good performance, a good result, other times injuries, sometimes big injuries, other times frustrations because they didn’t play, because the result was bad. In this case we know what didn’t go well but the national team is a different chapter and it’s a chapter that is closed now until March.”

Mourinho had appeared to question the bravery of Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw after claiming they were unwilling to play through the pain barrier in the 3-1 win at Swansea City the Sunday before last. Reports subsequently emerged that Smalling had broken his toe in two places and would be out for four to six weeks, which United denied, but Mourinho refused to discuss the subject after being angered by the media coverage.

“Chris Smalling, you cannot ask about because you have your sources, you trust your sources, you believe in your sources, you write what your sources tell you and you did that for 15 days, so now you’re not going to ask me to comment on your sources’ information,” he said. “Chris Smalling I do not comment, you have your trustful relationship with your sources, you wrote, you spoke, you comment, you criticise. I don’t say a word about Chris Smalling. You do the big headlines with your sources and now I’m not interested in commenting on that.”

Mourinho has publicly criticised Shaw on a couple of occasions this season but the manager is adamant the England left-back has his trust and will be available to face Arsenal.

“Luke Shaw I can comment,” Mourinho said. “He worked well in this period where we had a very small group, which is not the best, but he worked really well, he is ready to play, I don’t have any problem with him.

“I’m not saying he plays or doesn’t play tomorrow, but I’m saying he’s my player, he’s a young player with potential, he’s a young player like every young player with little problems, with things that he needs to learn and things he needs to improve.

“But he’s a player with my confidence and now in two weeks playing five matches like we’re going to do in three different competitions for sure he’s going to play.”

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