“I cannot compare the way he trains and commits, the focus, the ambition. He is a long way behind.”
So said Jose Mourinho a year ago, contrasting a then-21-year-old Luke Shaw with some of his Manchester United team-mates.
Things only seem to have deteriorated between in the 12 months since, and Mourinho has continued to criticise his beleaguered left-back. Yet for all the titles and trophies the Portuguese won at Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid, plenty of his playing staff have found themselves in the crosshair of the self-styled “happy one”...
The Portuguese defender was the go-to guy for a number of Mourinho sides, lifting the Champions League alongside his compatriot at Porto, before spells in the trenches at Chelsea and Real Madrid. A fine defender in his prime, the now-39-year-old is still playing in the twilight of his career with Shanghai SIPG.
It wasn't always rosy between the pair, though. Carvalho took umbrage with losing his place to William Gallas for the first game of the 2005/06 season, and Mourinho was quick to bring down the hammer on his player for sniping his discontent in the press.
“Ricardo Carvalho seems to have problems understanding things; maybe he should have an IQ test,” the Blues boss suggested. “I am not happy to have heard about this through the papers. Ricardo has worked with me for four years and I do not understand these quotes, he probably needs to see a doctor.”
A player who regularly featured in the national team alongside Carvalho, Pepe also spent 10 seasons at Real Madrid, collecting three La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues.
As an influential member of the dressing room, Pepe felt it was his place to defend Los Blancos legend Iker Casillas after Mourinho dropped the World Cup winner.
As the centre-back defended his skipper, Mourinho saw an ulterior motive for the defender’s actions. "Pepe has a problem. And his name is Raphael Varane," said Mourinho in 2013, in reference to Madrid's emerging French defender.
"That's the whole story. It isn't easy for a man aged 31 with a lot of experience behind him to be blown out of the water by a kid of 19. It's very simple. The problem is very simple. Pepe's life has changed."
Muntari was a surprise £12m capture for Inter from Portsmouth in 2008, but went on to play 27 Serie A matches in each of his first two seasons at San Siro - the latter in their triumphant treble-winning campaign.
Yet at the start of that season, Mourinho drew criticism from the Islamic community after questioning Muntari’s fasting during Ramadan. The Inter manager claimed it had a detrimental effect on his football, and substituted his Ghanaian midfielder just half an hour into a game against Bari.
“Muntari had some problems related to Ramadan; perhaps with this heat it's not good for him to be doing this [fasting],” Mourinho said afterwards. “Ramadan has not arrived at the ideal moment for a player to play a football match.”
Hazard enjoyed two productive campaigns under Mourinho during the latter's second spell at Chelsea between 2013 and 2015, netting 14 goals in each of the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns – the latter a Premier League-winning season.
But despite their domestic success together, the pair exchanged bitter words in the press following Chelsea’s Champions League exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid.
After Hazard explained to French media that Chelsea “were not set up to play football”, Mourinho fired back with some not-so-subtle insinuations of his own.
"It's normal because he's not the kind of player ready to sacrifice himself 100% for the team and for his mates," claimed Mourinho. "Eden is the kind of player who is not so mentally ready to look back at his left-back and live his life for him."
The English playmaker was heralded as one of the finest midfielders of his generation and a potential superstar during his youthful days at West Ham. Chelsea signed him for just under £7m in 2003 after Roman Abramovich's takeover in west London, and he kicked off his career at Stamford Bridge with an important goal against Liverpool.
Although Cole showed promise going forward, though, Mourinho was unhappy with his player's defensive displays – disdain which has often been reserved for the Portuguese's attacking players.
“He has a lot to learn,” said Mourinho. “I think he has two faces - one beautiful and one I don't like. He must keep one and change the other one. When he scored the goal the game finished for him. After that, I needed 11 players for my defensive organisation and I had just 10.”
Despite his vast experience and mighty medal collection with Bayern Munich and Germany, Schweinsteiger wasn't necessarily a logical buy for Louis van Gaal's Manchester United in 2015. Injury problems had befallen him during his latter days in Bavaria, and sure enough a ruptured ligament cut his debut campaign at Old Trafford in half.
Mourinho replaced Van Gaal in 2016 and immediatrly cast the experienced German aside, belittled the fading great with his actions rather than words. The Portuguese demoted the 121-cap star to United's under-23s, presumably in the hope of forcing his swift exit. That didn't happen, though, and Schweinsteiger left on a free transfer for MLS side Chicago Fire in summer 2017.
On this occasion, however, Mourinho admitted regret at his handling of the situation. “He is in the category of players I feel sorry for something that I did to him,” said the Manchester United manager last year. “I want to speak about him as a professional, as a human being. It was the last thing I told him before he left – I was not right with you once, I have to be right with you now.”
Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne is favourite for the 2018 PFA Player of the Year award after a breathtaking season with Manchester City – and how Chelsea must be kicking themselves for letting the Belgian wizard leave in 2014.
The 26-year-old has since established himself as one of the world’s finest midfielders under Pep Guardiola, but Mourinho was unwilling to give him the minutes he craved during his days at Stamford Bridge.
“With De Bruyne, if you have a player knocking on your door and crying every day he wants to leave, you have to make a decision. At that time, Chelsea did well,” Mourinho said in 2015. "But, if he was at Chelsea and not at Wolfsburg, he wouldn't have reached this level. It was like a wall, a block. He was not ready to compete. He was an upset kid, training very bad.”
They may be on great terms now - and clearly no long-term damage was caused, as Lukaku was happy to sign for Manchester United and play for Mourinho last summer. Yet as Chelsea boss in 2013, the Portuguese wasn’t shy of criticising his player while the Belgian was on loan at Everton.
"Romelu likes to speak. He's a young boy who likes to speak,” said Mourinho in response to one of Lukaku’s post-match interviews. “But the only thing he didn't say is why he went to Everton on loan. That's the only thing he never says. And my last contact with him was to tell him exactly that: 'Why do you never say why you are not here?'
"It's something he should say, the reason why he's not with Chelsea and is in Everton. There are things in our lives that we have to keep private but one day he scored and said he hoped Jose was watching. It was like saying: 'Why did he let me go?' And that's what I'm telling him now: 'Tell the country why you left.' When you enjoy to speak, speak everything. Don't speak only half of it. Speak everything. It's a simple question: 'Why did you leave Chelsea?' Ask him."
Mourinho faced a tough task during his three-year spell as Real Madrid manager: attempting to overthrow a dominant Barcelona, while persuading star player Cristiano Ronaldo to follow his gameplan.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Mourinho hinted that Ronaldo needed to improve his understanding of the game from a tactical perspective – helping to hammer the nail in his own coffin as Blancos boss.
“I had only one problem with him,” said Mourinho in 2013. “Very simple, very basic, which was when a coach criticises a player from a tactical viewpoint trying to improve what, in my view, could have been improved.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.