Jose Mourinho’s opinion of Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling, it seems, has been affected after the two defenders refused to play through the pain barrier against Swansea City at the weekend.
The Manchester United boss was forced to deploy a makeshift defence against the Swans - Phil Jones made his first appearance since January while Matteo Darmian was deployed at left-back - after the aforementioned England internationals told their boss they weren’t in the right condition to play.
"Smalling doesn't feel that he can play 100% with his pain,” Mourinho was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. “Shaw told me this morning that he was not able to play."
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Afterwards, he added: "For the team, you have to do anything.
"There is a difference between the brave, who want to play at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference.
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"If I were to speak with the many great football people of this team, they will say they played many times without being 100%.
"We have players on the pitch with problems. In every sport, how many times do you play and you're not 100%?"
Roy Keane's reaction to Van Nistelrooy in 2004
Roy Keane is one of those who admitted he used to play through the pain barrier in order to captain Manchester United.
In his 2014 autobiography, ‘The Second Half’, the former Irish midfielder revealed how he reacted when Ruud van Nistelrooy, the Red Devils’ former star striker, ruled himself out of a crunch FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Villa Park in April 2004.
Keane's stance has changed over the years
While Keane couldn’t understand Van Nistelrooy’s stance at the time, he later realised that the Dutchman was simply looking after himself.
“I was thinking he was the fool, but I think now that I probably was," Keane admitted. "I played, and my hamstring was f*****’ killing me. I think I actually had a torn hamstring. Ruud ended up playing in Spain till he was thirty-nine, and he still looks twenty-one. And I thought he was the idiot.”
Keane’s final line is quite telling: “What we see as heroic, I think now is probably weakness.”
Does Mourinho have less empathy because he didn't play?
Mourinho, of course, never played as a professional footballer and so may have less empathy when it comes to players not wanting to play unless 100 per cent fit.
But he made his feelings crystal clear after Sunday’s match and both Shaw and Smalling appear to be in his bad books at the moment.