Rio Ferdinand has expressed his support for his treatment of Luke Shaw at Manchester United, noting that testing the resolve of his players is crucial component of creating a winning team.
The Portuguese publicly criticised Shaw’s work ethic in training back in April, with the left-back only receiving 70 minutes of action between October and March.
Shaw has since vowed to prove his boss wrong and was handed his first appearance of the season after coming back from four months on the sidelines against Burton Albion but hasn’t received a minute of action since.
And Ferdinand, speaking on BT Sport, was quick to note that Mourinho’s treatment of Shaw, labelled as harsh by some, was required to get the best out of the Englishman.
“It looks like he is testing them mentally,” he said.
“Hit them with something, are you going to stay down or are you going to get up and fight? If you get up then he says yes, that’s the type of man I want in my team.
“As players, that’s what you want in your team. You don’t want players who will get one hit and shy away from things.
“One bad pass in a game, shy away from taking the ball again for the next 10/15 minutes. That’s not how you win titles. You need players who are going to be brave receiving the ball, not just physically and tackling, but mentally, and saying whatever happens here going forward, I will be with you guys shoulder to shoulder.”
The one thing keeping Shaw at this club is his ability – the prospect of what he can offer when at his very best: that energetic, disciplined, all-encompassing style on the left flank.
And yet, at the same time, the very thing keeping him away from the first team is an inability to produce his very best on a regular basis.
This is why Mourinho cannot give him and easy ride. Matteo Darmian, Ashley Young, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo are all still ahead of him in the pecking order and that won’t change until Shaw shows the 54-year-old something different.