Man United responded to Tuesday’s capitulation against Sevilla with a comfortable 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion to book a place in the FA Cup semi-final.
But the 55-year-old was far from happy in his post-match interview, hitting out at some of his players for lacking personality, class, and desire.
Speaking after the game, Mourinho noted that there were some players who could learn from McTominay’s character on the pitch.
“I have to say that for example McTominay lost more passes today than in all the matches he played together,” he said.
“But he was a Manchester United player and for me that means when he plays bad he gives to the team, that’s a question of personality. That’s a Manchester United player for me.
“A Manchester United player is one that has quality and personality and is consistent on that. But when you play bad, and when you’re a footballer you can play bad, you must have that personality which a kid of 20-years-old does have. That some of the others didn’t have.”
In a word, a United player is fearless. A United player, above all, takes chances and takes responsibility on the pitch.
And while some of what Mourinho has said in the past few days deserves to be questioned, this above statement does not. For too long this side has contained players who seem to carry their doubts and fears onto the pitch, almost mindful of making a mistake under such a big spotlight, but McTominay – and Matic alongside him – did not hide once.
The concomitant ruthless discipline and audacity of players who come through the ranks at United lays the platform for a litany of successful careers – either at Old Trafford or somewhere else – and McTominay’s performance was yet another example of that ethic, which has never changed since the days of Eric Harrison, looking right at home in the first team.
Bit by bit, McTominay has gone from a nobody to an example of the attitude Mourinho wants to see from even senior players at United.