Jose Mourinho is no stranger to throwing his players under the bus

Jose Mourinho taking aim at his Roma squad is far from the first time he has publicly savaged players… Paul Pogba, Eden Hazard and Tanguy Ndombele are just some to be thrown under the bus – but what happened next, and does the criticism WORK?

  • Jose Mourinho publicly trashed his Roma players after their loss at Bodo/Glimt 
  • The incident is far from the first time the Special One has taken aim at his stars 
  • Time and time again, he has not been afraid to chastise players for their efforts 
  • Paul Pogba, Tanguy Ndombele and Eden Hazard are just some to suffer his wrath 
  • Here, Sportsmail looks at 10 examples of fallouts and what then happened after 

Yes, it’s happened again. It feels like just a matter of weeks since Jose Mourinho took charge at Roma, and already he has done a very respectable job in potentially alienating half of his players there. It’s hardly a surprise, either.

It’s difficult to blame him from cutting a frustrated figure after his side’s Europa Conference League defeat at Bodo/Glimt. Already, the pressures of the job are lined on his face, made worse by the biting cold temperatures in Norway.

After all, the loss was bad enough, such was the degree of its shock, but the result also marked the first time a team managed by Mourinho has conceded six or more goals in a single game. It took until the 1,008th match of his career.

Roma boss Jose Mourinho publicly berated his players after their 6-1 loss against Bodo/Glimt

A long time, then, for such a setback – but that came as little consolation to the veteran coach. Instead, in his post-match interviews, he came out fighting, and promptly dismissed the quality of his second-string over several explosive minutes.

‘They have more quality than us,’ he said, adopting that well-worn dismissive tone used often in the past. ‘Their first team is a much better team than our second team.

‘It’s my mistake. I wanted to rest players after the game against Juventus and before the game against Napoli. I made these decisions, and in the end, they are better players than my players. They are a better team than my team.’ 

This is not the first time Mourinho hasn’t been afraid to take aim at his players in public. His career has been marked by plenty of these moments, which either end in tears or a trophy being hoisted in the air. Here, Sportsmail takes a look at some… 

Mourinho has thrown his stars under the bus before – here, Sportsmail looks at some incidents


What happened? 

Where better place to start than here? A world-class superstar known for his big personality and hot and cold displays, coached by a man who loves total control and will not hesitate to drop players for weeks on end.

It was never going to end well, was it? The initial signs were promising, though, with Pogba arriving at United for a then world-record fee and flourishing. But after that, everything collapsed, including his terse relationship with Mourinho.

Reports claimed the duo were not longer on speaking terms in March 2018, and after that came Mourinho’s infamous ‘virus’ jibe. Pogba was also stripped of the vice-captaincy and endured a public argument with him in training.

How did it end?

Not well for Mourinho. Pogba, on his day, is both a destroyer in midfield and a playmaker blessed with feet quick enough to help him glide through the heart of a team and tee up his team-mates with chances. 

His inconsistency frustrated his manager, however, and Pogba found himself on the bench during Mourinho’s final games in charge. Tellingly, the former Juventus man was an unused substitute for the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.

That, of course, was Mourinho’s last match at the helm at United. Since then, Pogba was both entertained and confused under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and his future is uncertain. Both men share a good relationship, though. 

Paul Pogba was reportedly called a ‘virus’ by Mourinho and was dropped before his sacking


What happened?

Another top-class talent Jose Mourinho failed to get a handle on was Eden Hazard during his Chelsea days. A magician even on the worst of days, the forward starred at Stamford Bridge for several seasons before joining Real Madrid.

Unfortunately for him, Mourinho wants each of his players to muck in when defending, a requirement Hazard would often avoid during matches. Not even his individual qualities at the other end spared him from scathing criticism. 

‘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,’ Mourinho said.  

‘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.’

How did it end?

Mourinho’s first season at Chelsea in his second spell was an underwhelming one, but the next year, they went on to win the Premier League. 

Hazard won the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards under him. 

In his third season, Mourinho was sacked, leaving his side just above the drop zone.  

Despite his supreme talent, Eden Hazard’s refusal to track back had been trashed by Mourinho


What happened? 

One of the few occasions where Jose Mourinho has stepped over the line was his public jibe at defender Ricardo Carvalho at Chelsea. In just one sharp line, he criticised his player’s intellect, and asked whether he was mentally stable.

Carvalho was a regular performer during Mourinho’s first tenure at the club, but aired his frustration after not being selected for the first match of the 2005/06 season. In typical fashion, his manager took aim at him relentlessly. 

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

How did it end? 

Harsh words, indeed. However, they quickly had the desired effect. Carvalho, always the consummate professional, responded with true class. 

He worked his way back into Mourinho’s team, and played under him at Real Madrid.

Mourinho said Ricardo Carvalho ‘should have an IQ test, or to go a mental hospital’ at Chelsea


What happened? 

The one visitor Tanguy Ndombele would not have been expecting while resting at his north London apartment in April 2020 was Jose Mourinho. His manager, who arrived unannounced, called down his midfielder for an impromptu fitness session.

Out in the open, with the first lockdown in the UK underway, the situation was bizarre – and also broke the coronavirus restrictions put in place by the government. Mourinho deemed it necessary, however, due to his frustrations with Ndombele.

Pointing the finger at the player after Spurs’ draw at Burnley, and having hooked him off at half-time, Mourinho said: ‘In the first half we didn’t have a midfield. 

‘I know adapting to the Premier League is difficult but he has had enough time and a player of his potential has to give us more than he is giving us.’

How did it end?

Ndombele was handed just 64 minutes of top-flight action after the league got back underway in Project Restart. 

He then picked up an injury, ruling him out of Spurs’ final three fixtures. Mourinho’s mood lightened towards him, but he was sacked. 

Tanguy Ndombele was often savaged by Mourinho, who hauled him out for impromptu training


What happened?

Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw shared a bitter relationship during the former’s time in charge at Manchester United. The left back was constantly criticised by his manager in the media for his supposed lack of a ‘football brain’.

His retorts clearly stung Shaw, who endured a horror dip in form and happiness. Before Mourinho was sacked when his spell fell apart, it looked certain that the much-maligned defender would be first out of the door.

‘I think he has to change his football brain,’ Mourinho once said, after being asked about a performance from Shaw. ‘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.’ 

How did it end?

The constant barrages of nasty words left Shaw a shell of his former, flying self, and it wasn’t until Mourinho was sacked that he began to live up to his potential. 

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the left back has been reborn, and has swiped back at his former boss on a number of occasions. The bitterness remains, clearly. 

Luke Shaw has admitted to having felt low after several public ear-bashes from boss Mourinho


What happened? 

It is difficult to forget Pepe. Another battle-scared defender who relishes a challenge, he was one of Jose Mourinho’s finest generals. It came as a surprise, then, to hear his manager belittle him, whether it was intentional or not.

Over the course of the decade between 2007 and 2017, Pepe turned himself into a formidable stalwart at Real Madrid. Eventually, however, his playing time decreased thanks to the emergence of newfound prodigy Raphael Varane. 

Varane, now at Manchester United, won over Mourinho almost instantly. He was dropped into the team often, forcing Pepe to watch on from the sidelines. And when outlining the dilemma facing the veteran, Mourinho didn’t hold back. 

‘Pepe has a problem. And his name is Raphael Varane,’ Mourinho said. ‘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.’

How did it end?

Mourinho, despite the success he brought to the Bernabeu, found himself departing at the end of the 2012-13 season. 

His hand may have been forced after several public clashes with senior members of his team, including the wily Pepe. 

Pepe’s frustration with Mourinho saw his manager respond by outlining what ‘his problem’ was


What happened? 

Jose Mourinho announcing he was the ‘Special One’ as a fresh-faced tactician riding on the wave of his stellar Champions League success at Porto endeared him to Chelsea supporters forever, and there was a time when he was untouchable.

His first era there saw his team play swashbuckling, expansive football, and they sauntered to the Premier League title in style. A man crucial to that accolade was Joe Cole, who netted eight goals, but perhaps flew under the radar slightly.

Of course, just scoring isn’t enough for a demanding Mourinho – as Cole found out to his detriment after finding the net in October 2004. 

‘When he [Cole] scored the goal the game finished for him,’ Mourinho said in a sly jibe. ‘After that I needed 11 players for my defensive organisation and I had just 10.’

How did it end?

It wasn’t until Mourinho arrived in London that Cole’s career took off at Chelsea. 

In response, he paid back his coach in spades, becoming a key member for both club and country. A success story for the Roma boss, then.

Mourinho insisted he was left with ‘just 10’ players when defending due to Joe Cole’s work-rate


What happened? 

Ask anyone, and they will tell you that Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s career at Manchester United was one of underwhelming performances and frustration on his part. Part of a lavish summer of spending by Jose Mourinho, the forward never found his feet.   

A cheeky scorpion kick and a goal in the Europa League final against Ajax ensured that his time with United wasn’t all doom and gloom, but once his showings fell through the floor, there was no way back for him under Mourinho.

Instead of offering encouragement to a player desperately in need of some, Mourinho expressed his annoyance with the string of below-par games from Mkhitaryan. ‘I was not happy with his last performances,’ he said.

‘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.’

How did it end? 

Well, in perhaps the worst swap deal in history. 

It was an arrangement both clubs were left to rue, although United were worse off as a result of Alexis Sanchez’s exorbitant wages. 

Neither him nor Mkhitaryan enjoyed their next spells.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was in need of a lift at United, but Mourinho chastised him openly instead


What happened?

Manchester United headed into their Carabao Cup tie against Derby County in September 2018 already in need of a boost, with several of their players struggling with confidence. They lost on penalties, though, leading to a glum Jose Mourinho. 

It was a horribly disjoined display, in truth, and Derby, who were managed by Frank Lampard at the time, picked up a memorable triumph when Phil Jones – adorned in a pair of garish pink boots – stepped up and saw his effort saved by Scott Carson.

Fifteen consecutive penalties were scored before Jones was denied, and Mourinho openly admitted in his post-match interviews that he knew his side were ‘in trouble’ when the likes of Jones and Eric Bailly were up next to take theirs.

‘We practise penalties and we see it in training and when we get past the sixth penalty I know we’re in trouble with Bailly and Jones,’ Mourinho said.

How did it end?

Mourinho was infamously sacked after parts of the dressing room turned against him, but defender Jones remains at United. 

He has recently fought back from a string of crippling injuries, and will provide much-needed cover this season. 

Mourinho admitted he believed Phil Jones would miss his penalty against Derby back in 2018


What happened? 

If there is any player largely exempt from criticism at Manchester United this season, it is David de Gea. Time after time, their goalkeeper has bailed them out. Without him, quite simply, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may not even be in a job.

It has not all been plain sailing, though, with a few rough patches placing the spotlight firmly on him. Under Jose Mourinho, De Gea was often at his best, but even that wasn’t enough to stop the coach from making a bizarre, jokey comparison.

A Champions League clash against Young Boys saw De Gea pull off a truly stunning reflex save, handing United victory, but Mourinho played down the praise directed at his stopper – and instead comically insisted he could have played in goal instead. 

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

How did it end?

It wasn’t all misery during Mourinho’s tenure at United. 

They finished second in the league, spurred on by weekly heroics from De Gea, and also won three trophies. 

Since then, the stopper is empty-handed, but has burst back into top form.

Infamously, Mourinho joked he could have replaced David de Gea in goal against Young Boys

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