Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho insisted Friday he was unhurt by attacks on his players from football “Einsteins”, adding it was a very different matter when he publicly criticised his team.
Mourinho’s approach was called into question by various sections of the media during a run of three successive defeats that ended with United’s EFL Cup victory over third-tier side Northampton Town in midweek.
The Portuguese boss labelled the critics “Einsteins” for their know-it-all approach but said in a news conference on Friday they had not annoyed him.
“I am (not) upset with anything,” Mourinho said. “I am such a lucky guy that I cannot be upset with anything. I am upset with nothing.
“The only thing that upsets me a little bit is the kind of criticism to my players because my players are my players.
“I should protect them, I would love to protect them, and from you (in the media) I can’t. It is something that is completely out of my control.”
The former Chelsea manager added: “It’s like when you want to protect people and you can’t.
“I think it’s a feeling of frustration, but with me it’s fine and with the Einsteins it’s fine.
“The Einsteins need money to live, they can’t coach, they can’t sit on the bench, they can’t win matches.
“They can speak, they can write, they can criticise the work of other people, but I am a good man. I am a good man of goodwill. I do lots of charity, I help so many people, so why not also feed the Einsteins? That’s fine.”
Mourinho has not been averse to his own criticism of his players so far this season, which started with three successive Premier League wins before losses to Manchester City and Watford, either side of a Europa League defeat in Feyenoord.
United defender Luke Shaw was said to be unhappy at being singled out for criticism for a mistake he made in the loss at Watford but Mourinho defended his stance.
“It’s a learning process,” Mourinho explained. “You make a mistake, especially the kind of individual mistake, you have to learn with what that means for the team.
“The critique is part of the evolution, the critique is part of the process, the critique helps people to learn how to cope with critics. It’s their life. From you, they cannot expect other thing than be ready to smash them when they have periods of not so much success.”
United captain Wayne Rooney’s unconvincing form has been another major talking point during the early months of Mourinho’s Old Trafford reign, with the manager saying it was just a reflection of the side’s performances as a whole.
“We are a team. We are not Wayne Rooney, we are a team,” he said. “We all won four matches. We all lost three matches in a week. We like to say very good start to the season, probably better than we could expect, better than you were prepared for.”
United face defending champions Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, already trailing Premier League leaders Manchester City by six points.
Mourinho accepted he had taken a chance in saying United would be challenging for the Premier League title in his first season in charge.
A three-time Premier League winner at Chelsea, he added: “I always said since day one that my title ambitions were also a motivational factor. I don’t understand being in this club and giving a different message.
“But I knew — and I admit immediately — that was a very risky approach.
“If you remember my words, I said something like I am not playing defensively with my words because I know that it is difficult. We are playing against good teams.”