Jose Mourinho Says Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw Lack Character

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 23, 2018

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Jose Mourinho the head coach / manager of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has criticised some of the club's younger stars, including Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard, for lacking character and maturity. 

Mourinho has questioned the attitudes of his players at times this season, and he told Univision (h/t Metro's Chris Davie) some of those are lacking the same level of maturity as their predecessors:

"They are lacking maturity. And let me be clear when I say maturity, I mean maturity on a personal level.

"We had more men, we were more mature, we were more prepared for life, we were less protected.

"They are spoilt kids now, the kids of today have a different life, an easier environment and I'm talking about the people around the players. These people give them too much affection and too many excuses. People mature much more slowly now."

He added about specific players: "We're talking about Luke Shaw, Martial, Lingard, Rashford—young, big potential, but at the end of the day it results in the word I cannot say [cojones], but you use it a lot here…character, personality, they lack a little."

Mourinho had been more positive when referring to his stars recently. Samuel Luckhurstof the Manchester Evening News chronicled his change in approach to handling Martial and how that's working to good effect.

Shaw is enjoying his best season under Mourinho to date and has started 11 of United's 12 Premier League games this season, although the efforts to develop forwards Martial and Rashford haven't progressed much.

Rashford in particular has wasted some glaring opportunities to have an impact when given to him. WhoScored.com recently debated the notion Mourinho hasn't afforded the 21-year-old enough chances, considering he's handed the attacker more appearances than any other player since taking over in 2016:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Most minutes played under Mourinho at United: 1. D. De Gea - 9,630 across 107 apps 2. P. Pogba - 8,536 across 103 apps 3. C. Smalling - 7,758 across 95 apps 4. A. Valencia - 7,644 across 87 apps 5. M. Rashford - 6,458 across 117 apps Full player stats -- https://t.co/ap15KcRJCo https://t.co/6eIvNss9TP

He's the youngest of the quartet mentioned by Mourinho, the next being 22-year-old Martial, who has seven goals in 14 appearances this term and is on course for his most prolific season at Old Trafford to date.

The Frenchman has scored six in his last five league appearances, and Luckhurst highlighted the manager's impact on him and others:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

@CharlieMooseGib @davidpreece12 He’s improved Shaw and Martial. Young, Fellaini and Lingard have become better under him. Have written about his reservations about certain signings. Guardiola signed the odd dud - and was allowed to replace them. As is outlined in pieces longer than 280 characters.

His increased use of Shaw, 23, this season would at least suggest the left-back is moving in the right direction, while Lingard, 25, was slower coming back from his 2018 FIFA World Cup.

That being said, the latter was active during the international break and showed his club boss in a friendly win over the United States how he can rise to the occasion, via the UEFA Nations League:

UEFA Nations League @UEFAEURO

Check out this golazo! 🔝🗑️ 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Jesse Lingard giving @10Ronaldinho & @andresiniesta8 a reason to watch clips of *him*... 😉 🦁🦁🦁 @England @JesseLingard https://t.co/foz3xQRxXu

Lingard, Martial and Rashford formed the front three in United's recent 3-1 defeat to Premier League leaders Manchester City. Shaw also started at the Etihad Stadium, where the Red Devils were made to look like boys against men.

That performance won't define their season, but United's questioned stars may still seek to prove to their boss that they've got more than just the potential to lead the club forward.