Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho appeared to question the mental toughness of Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw after being forced to field a makeshift defence during his side’s victory at Swansea.
FA Cup holders United ended a run of four Premier League matches without a win as a Zlatan Ibrahimovic double added to Paul Pogba’s opener, while Swansea replied through centre-half Mike van der Hoorn.
Mourinho had little choice but to re-jig his defence which meant Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian played right and left-back respectively, while the injury-plagued Phil Jones made his first start since 2 January.
The Portuguese had already made pointed pre-match remarks regarding Smalling and Shaw’s supposed reluctance to play through the pain barrier, before adding: “We have players with problems but we have on the pitch players with problems.
“I know in other sports, at the highest level, how many times you play and you are not 100 per cent. I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he remembers more the times he played with pain than without pain. To compete you have to go to the limits.”
United, who moved to sixth in the table, boasted a three-goal lead at the break thanks to Pogba’s drive and two strikes from Ibrahimovic, who was without a league goal since September.