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Jose Mourinho once labeled them as a “virus,” suggesting they would continue to undermine the club’s stature as long as they remained. Surprisingly, after all this time, three of these players are still part of Manchester United. It’s no wonder the club’s situation remains unchanged.

It’s been half a decade since Jose Mourinho criticized four Manchester United players for lacking the “character” and “personality” he deemed necessary, and surprisingly, three of them are still with the club. In November 2018, during a challenging period for United, Mourinho, in an interview with Univision, responded to a query from Barcelona legend Hristo Stoichkov about the youth players, labeling Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, and Jesse Lingard as needing to mature and step up their game.


He remarked on their lack of personal maturity, attributing it to a different upbringing compared to his generation, citing societal changes and a protective environment around players hindering their development. Mourinho highlighted Luke Shaw’s transformation into a competent left-back for the national team but emphasized his initial struggles with competitiveness upon his arrival.


Despite their potential, Mourinho felt these players were missing a crucial element: “Character, personality, as they say in Spain…that natural aggression.” A month after this interview, Mourinho was dismissed following a defeat to Liverpool, leaving United far from the Premier League top four.


Shaw, Rashford, and Martial remain at United, while Lingard is a free agent after his release from Nottingham Forest. Mourinho, having departed from AS Roma, is reportedly eyeing a return to Old Trafford, feeling he has unfinished business. Reports suggest he’s interested in collaborating with United’s new ownership, led by Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS, who recently acquired a significant stake in the club.

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