Rio Ferdinand has criticised Jose Mourinho for publicly shaming some of his players in the wake of disappointing results against West Bromwich Albion and Everton.
He later called upon Marcus Rashord, Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera to improve their goal tally at Old Trafford, with none of the aforementioned five claiming more than seven goals so far this season.
And Ferdinand, in response, was quick to warn the Portuguese over potentially damaging his side’s morale ahead of such a crucial stage of the season.
“When a manager goes public it’s a dangerous thing,” he said.
“You’re not winning, so there’s a chance the changing room could react in a negative way. I could feel some of the boys a bit in trouble by the confidence levels.
“When the confidence levels are not high the quality of the performance is not easy to improve.”
It has become clear that, under Mourinho, there is a particular standard that one has to reach before even contemplating reaching a place in the starting XI: Mkhitaryan, Shaw, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Anthony Martial understand this very notion from a first hand perspective.
The Portuguese is not trying to chastise his players for no reason; he is employing the regularly adopted tactic of calling out a particular player in front of the watching world and observing what kind of response they can muster. It is, above anything, a test of resolve and indeed of who really has the mettle to succeed at this level.