Manchester United players stunned by Jose Mourinho's 'bullying' of Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw's Manchester United team-mates were left stunned and angry after Jose Mourinho's latest humiliation of the defender.
Shaw was surprisingly taken off at half-time in the win over Brighton, leaving many United players dumbfounded.
It is believed some United stars even believe Shaw, who is facing an increasingly bleak future while Mourinho remains in charge, is being "bullied" by the Portuguese.
The manager was seen shouting at Shaw during the first half, later insisting he wanted his team "to defend better".
His latest public degrading of Shaw comes just two months after claiming the left-back was one of the best in his position. Shaw has more than a year remaining on his contract, but could now be facing a period out of the first team.
The full-back was not the only candidate for criticism from Mourinho, who was furious with a number of his players after they struggled against Chris Hughton's side. Barely 24 hours after launching an impassioned defence of his 20 months in charge at Old Trafford, Mourinho declared that only Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku - the two goalscorers against Brighton - were safe from his wrath.
With the manager accusing his charges of "a lack of personality, lack of class and lack of desire", it was left to Matic, his loyal lieutenant at Chelsea and now United, to try to explain a second memorable outburst in as many days.
"I didn't have many managers in my life, but he is special because he wants to win always," said the midfielder. "You can see when we lose a game he cannot accept that.
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"It is very difficult to work with him because he always wants more. Even if you win the league, he wants to win again next season.
"He is like this and the players need to be ready for that. Because at this high level, at Manchester United and Chelsea, the players need to be ready for that because the pressure is big.
"Everyone expects you to win every game. Obviously, it is not possible, but supporters always expect. It doesn't matter if you are tired or not.
"Supporters want high-quality football. It is normal."
'Normal' also describes these latest outbursts, at least for Mourinho. It is a pattern he has followed before in his managerial career and helps to explain, at least in part, why he has never spent more than three years in any one post.
Having turned from admonishing supporters, to criticising his predecessors, to self-defence, to hitting out at his players - all in the space of one weekend - Mourinho conceded on Saturday evening that a policy of being so public in his pronouncements could backfire.
It is conceivable, he admitted, that he could 'lose' the dressing room after his scattergun approach to a group of multi-millionaire footballers not readily known for their acceptance of such public embarrassment.
Not that Matic features in that category, with Mourinho's admiration for the player long since a matter of record. If the 29-year-old does represent the resident United teacher's pet, however, it was not a point he wished to analyse.
"I think this is a question for him. I am doing my best, and I am happy to work with him. I'm happy to be part of his team, club," he said.
"I think he respects what I am doing every day, not only in the game but in the training sessions, and I am happy for that.
"I like when the manager always wants better and better, so you have to improve always.
"Always do your best. I like this kind of work, this kind of relationship. I'm happy."
All of which leaves United in a curious state of limbo for now. Should they win the FA Cup and finish second in the league, does that represent an improvement on Mourinho's debut season when he won two pieces of silverware in the League Cup and Europa League?
Given that embarrassment against Sevilla in the Champions League in midweek, probably not.
For Matic, a season in which the FA Cup is the only honour, cannot be considered success.
"I think no," he said, "because I always want to win more and more, but in the Premier League you have six or seven teams who want to win the league.
"It is not possible to always win, but if we win the FA Cup, it is good but not perfect. You have four competitions in the season, if you win one, for me, it is not enough, but you always have to do your best.
"In the Premier League when you are in the first four, this is not perfect, but is good to play for the Champions League next season."
© Daily Telegraph, London