Man United's Jose Mourinho on players' mentality: Some of them won't 'make it'
Jose Mourinho has given a clear indication of his plans to rebuild his Manchester United squad this summer by claiming that some players are not going to "make it" after questioning the strength of their mentality.
Mourinho, whose team can secure second in the Premier League with a point at West Ham United on Thursday, has criticised the performance of his team on numerous occasions this season and most recently after the 1-0 defeat at Brighton on Friday.
That loss was the third time United had been beaten by a promoted team away from home this season following defeats at Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United.
But with United also claiming league wins against every team in the top seven, Mourinho admitted he is concerned by the mindset of his players in games against so-called smaller teams and that some of them have now proven to him that they cannot live up to his standards.
"How many points separate us from Manchester City?" Mourinho said. "Not two, three or four. A lot of points.
"Some of the people we have, they have to be more consistent in their performance and we need more quality. I trust some more than others that can bridge that gap. That's normal. I know the players. I worked with the players for a couple of years, so I know them better than anyone.
"And of course, some of the players I am totally convinced are going to make it, some others I have good hopes that they are going to make it and some others I don't believe they are going to make it. In my squad, I have some players where I would like to have better than what I have. That's basic."
United have dropped nine points against the promoted teams this season and also took seven points against relegated Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion.
And Mourinho admitted he cannot accept such a poor return from those fixtures, especially when his players have been able to rise to the occasion and win against their rivals at the top end of the table.
"For me, to win against all the small teams and to lose against all the big teams -- when I say 'small' and 'big', forgive my basic English, I would prefer to explain it another way -- but when you lose against the small teams and you win against the big teams, it's not right," he said.
"When you lose against the big teams and you win against the small teams, that is also not right. I think it's normal that during the season, you have your low moments, but in a balanced way. When you lose against all the teams that were promoted, that doesn't smell right for me."
With United ending their campaign against West Ham and Watford -- two teams in the bottom half of the table -- they have the opportunity to end the season on a winning note.
But Mourinho has told his players that the only way to win against lesser teams is to approach those games in the same way they would approach a clash against City, Chelsea or Liverpool.
"Try to succeed in getting every player to have the same mentality as I have," Mourinho said, when asked how he can change United's inconsistency against the weaker teams. "To have the same mentality as I have, is to face every game in the same way.
"I am not afraid to play against the big teams and I respect the small teams, and I prepare a match against a big team in the same way I prepare a match against a small team.
"For me, the match against the big team is not different to the match against the small team. Big and small, I don't like it [those terms], but that's the way I can express it."
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_