Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a tough start to life at Man United but is now flourishing and using him as an example, Neville pointed towards Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw who are all having similar sort of treatment.
Mourinho’s public criticism of all three is an indication that he wants more out of them and speaking on Monday Night Football about United’s players, Neville wants to see them step up to the challenge which Mourinho has set them.
“With Mkhitaryan earlier in the season there was something wrong between him and the manager and he wasn’t quite in favour, but he has come in and has looked outstanding,” Neville said.
“Martial has got to decide which way he wants to take it, as have a couple of others. Chris Smalling has come back into the team having been criticised and done well. Luke Shaw has got to determine how he wants to take it.
“What Jose Mourinho has decided to do is challenge these players and say ‘are you good enough to play for this club? Have you got what it takes to go out there and deliver week in and week out?'”
I do think Neville is spot on here and it’s absolutely crucial Mourinho uses this approach at United. Let’s be honest – there have been so many passengers in the last few years, life as a United player has been relatively easy. Punishment has been minimal, wages have been – players could get away with a lot and continue getting regular starts. That is not the case under Mourinho.
It’s all about reinstating a winning mentality back into a team which had it so naturally under Sir Alex Ferguson. It won’t be a pretty journey, there will be some bumps and some casualties but ultimately if United want to be back on our pedestal, it’s a job which is absolutely necessary.
Mkhitaryan emphatically responded to Mourinho’s challenge and Martial’s performance against Watford suggests he’s taking the same route as well. Now it is up to Smalling and Shaw to follow that path and I have every confidence in Shaw doing so, Smalling not so much.
United needed Mourinho to come in and bring the club back to where it belongs. Game by game, that process is now happening and we’re in a strong position to finish in the top four this season because of it.