10 Times That José Mourinho Has Publicly Thrown His Own Players Under the Bus

Make what you want of it, but it’s something José Mourinho does and it’s something he does quite often.

There tends to be no middle ground with the Portuguese boss. Either his players (past or present) adore him for improving them, or make no bones about the manner with which they have been treated.

Sometimes such public criticism can be used as a springboard for development, or it can be the crushing disappointment that sees them hounded out of the starting lineup and eventually fade into the reserves, never to be seen again.

How Tanguy Ndombele responds from Mourinho’s most recent round of rebuttal remains to be seen, as the ?Tottenham boss held no punches in his scathing review.

“I was expecting players not tired to give more to the team,” the Spurs boss ?said. “’Somebody’ has to realise that this is the Premier League. This is probably a new experience and the first time he comes to Burnley. I hope that next season he can be fantastic because until now it is not enough.”


He’s not the first, though, and, history suggests he won’t be the last. Here’s who else he’s fed to the lions during his career.

Joe Cole – 2004

Joe Cole,Jose Mourinho,Steve Clarke

Back in his first stint at ?Chelsea, there was little Mourinho could do wrong. His side were formidable, impressive in every facet, and unstoppable on their way to the ?Premier League crown. Integral to that success was Joe Cole, who scored eight league goals as the Blues secured the title with a 95-point haul.

However, sometimes scoring a goal isn’t enough. As Cole found out the hard way.

“When he [Cole] scored the goal the game finished for him,” he quirked. “After that I needed 11 players for my defensive organisation and I had just 10.”

Ricardo Carvalho – 2005

Jose Mourinho,Ricardo Carvalho

Criticising the performances of your players is one thing. Criticising the intellect of your players and whether they’re mentally stable, well, that’s another matter entirely.

Ricardo Carvalho was a mainstay during Mourinho’s first spell at Stamford Bridge, but having been unhappy with not been selected for the opening match of the 2005/06 season, Mourinho responded in typical Mourinho fashion.

He said: “He seems to have problems understanding things, maybe he should have an IQ test, or go to a mental hospital or something.”

Pepe – 2013

Real Madrid's Portuguese coach Jose Mour

Everyone remembers Pepe. He was universally disliked for overreacting in every sense of the word, unless you were a ?Real Madrid supporter between 2007-2017 of course, in which case you probably loved him.

Mourinho liked him on occasion, but a certain French defensive prodigy sought to limit his playing time under the coach. That, in itself, is totally justified. Telling the public that in a manner that belittles the player? Perhaps not so much.

“Pepe has a problem. And his name is Raphael Varane,” Mourinho willingly revealed. “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.”

Eden Hazard – 2014

Jose Mourinho,Eden Hazard

Head back to London for Mourinho’s second spell at the club and it looked like being a romantic reunion. Back at the side where he made his mark, one thing was for sure….he hadn’t changed one iota.

Players need to know their defensive roles in his team, that much is definite. So when ?Eden Hazard failed to perform that task under his new boss, Mourinho wasn’t bothered how individually gifted he was; he made his feelings known.

He said: “When the comments come from a player like Eden it’s normal because he’s not the kind of player to sacrifice himself for the team. Normally you get these kind of comments from players like him, from players that can’t resolve a problem like we had in the first goal.

“Eden is the kind of player that is not so mentally ready to look back to his left-back and to leave his life for him.”

Strong words indeed.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 2017

Henrikh Mkhitaryan,Jose Mourinho

The Armenian international only showed glimpses of his ability at ?Manchester United since moving from ?Borussia Dortmund the year prior, leaving Mourinho somewhat underwhelmed at his contribution. Instead of opening the door for improvement though, the Portuguese insisted it was only downhill from here.

He said: “I was not happy with his last performances. It’s not one or two, I am talking about three, four or five. He started well this season but his performance levels, goalscoring, assists, high pressing, bringing the team with him as number 10, were decreasing step by step.” 

?That’s that, then.

Luke Shaw – Take Your Pick


No point placing a date on this one, it’s best just to pick the highlights from a reel that would make Marcelo Bielsa’s memorable Leeds press conference seem like a mere 30-second monologue.

Mourinho didn’t like ?Luke Shaw and, shock horror, Shaw didn’t like Mourinho.

One of many criticisms was: “I think he has to change his football brain. I was telling him just now, he was doing things in the second half because he was reacting to my voice. If he was playing on the other side, for sure he would not do it because I was not there to think for him.”

Even after leaving his post as United boss, Mourinho continued dishing the dirt on Shaw, proclaiming: “When Maguire gets drawn out to cover for Luke Shaw, and he will learn through the season he will have to do this many times.”

Leave the kid alone, Jose.

Phil Jones – 2018

Phil Jones,Jose Mourinho

Oh ?Phil Jones, the gift that keeps on giving. The faces he pulls, the defensive lapses he’s become infamous for. All in all, it’s a joyful experience watching the centre-back play.

Unless you’re Mourinho of course, and you’re seeing your side line up for a penalty shootout against Derby County in the Carabao Cup.

“When I saw [the penalties] going after the sixth, seventh [takers], I knew that we were going to be in trouble with Jones,” he had no issue in admitting.

Needless to say, his fears weren’t without reason, as Jones missed the crucial penalty and the Red Devils crashed out of the competition.

David de Gea – 2018


United’s saviour for such a long period of time is not exempt from Mourinho’s words. Nobody is exempt from Mourinho’s words, even…….. when they play well?

A stunning reflex save by ?David de Gea against Young Boys in the ?Champions League handed the Red Devils victory, but still Mourinho did his best to quell praise for his Spanish boss.

“I think David performance [against Young Boys] you have to say for 92 minutes, to be David there or myself would be the same,” he stated. “I can kick as well as him and zero saves, zero shots, to be David or myself would be the same.”

We’re not safe. Nobody is safe.

Paul Pogba – An Eternity


Chalk and cheese, oil and water, Apple and Microsoft, José Mourinho and ?Paul Pogba.

The link here is clear: some things just don’t go together at allA fractious relationship between the pair cast a dark cloud over the twilight months of Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford, but the truth is, they never saw eye to eye.

One such outburst read: “I don’t think it’s about us getting the best out of him. It’s about him giving the best he has to give. I think the World Cup is the perfect habitat for a player like him to give the best. Why? Because it’s closed for a month, where he can only think about football. Where he’s with his team on the training camp, completely isolated from the external world, where they focus just on football, where the dimensions of the game can only motivate.”

?He also supposedly called him a ‘virus’, stripped him of the vice-captaincy and had a public spat with him during a training session. 

It was never going to last.

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