Gareth Southgate defends Manchester United duo after Jose Mourinho dig


Interim England manager Gareth Southgate jumped to the protection of Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, following criticism from their manager.

The couple both missed Manchester United’s convincing 3-1 win over Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium at the weekend, with Smalling suffering a foot damage and Shaw ruling himself out of the tie because of pain in the previously fractured leg. Their nonattendance incited a despondent reaction from Mourinho, who expressed the players should go out till their limits for the team.

“Smalling doesn’t feel that he can play 100% with his pain. Shaw told me this morning that he was not able to play. There is a difference between the brave, who want to play at any cost and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference,” the Portuguese told BBC Sport prior to the game.

But the English manager Gareth Southgate reacted otherwise and defended both the players.

Southgate said that Shaw was all the while suffering psychological and physical aspects from breaking his leg in two pieces one year back and additionally talked in defense of Chris Smalling when Mourinho is furious that the two defenders quit the 3-1 triumph on Sunday due to lack of mental strength. Although Southgate picked his words deliberately so it was clear he was not picking a contention with the Manchester United boss, he suggested that he believed the word of the medical staff at Old Trafford.

“There is a medical issue. If Shaw wasn’t fit to play – and he was with us in September under Sam [Allardyce] and was feeling problems with the leg back then – there’s clearly something. After an injury as severe as that, we have to handle that with care,” Southgate said.

Southgate further added, “Chris hasn’t played for the last four games. Luke has but we’ve known he has had ongoing difficulties coming back from a very serious injury. If they had played and we weren’t at least having a look at them, it would be different. But if they haven’t played, there’s obviously something wrong. Obviously, it’s a difficult one because I don’t know the reason for the comments José’s made.”

The England internationals have been playing with pain killer injections this season. However, there’s been subsequent reports rumoring after Mourinho’s remarks that the Manchester United left back is baffled by the criticism, as he continues his healing from a broken leg suffered last year.


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Photo by Sean MacEntee