Gary Neville believes Jose Mourinho must identify and sell the “three or four players” whose attitude has not been good enough this season, with the Manchester United manager ready to drop his underperforming stars for this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by West Bromwich Albion not only handed rivals Manchester City the Premier League title, but raised serious concerns for Mourinho about how his top performers have dropped off this season.
With United’s last chance of winning a trophy coming in the FA Cup, Mourinho admitted in the wake of the loss at Old Trafford that he could look to drop those players who are simply not performing, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez believed to be in the firing line.
But Neville went one step further on Monday and said that the players who clearly have an attitude problem need to be sold in the summer when the transfer window opens, with Mourinho bringing in replacements who resolve those “attitude and consistency problems”.
“I didn’t see it coming, it was a dismal, a weak day for United,” Neville said of United’s defeat on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football. “They started the season trying to rid themselves of these performances.
“Mourinho referred to attitude and consistency, he needs to identify the ones causing those problems and they need to go. I think there will be three or four players leaving and the same number coming in.
“He's got to make that gap up and it's going to be tough. Consistency is about mentality and the players fell well below that considering the last couple of weeks."
Neville’s comments came after Mourinho expressed his disappointment with a number of his leading players at the weekend, with Lukaku, Sanchez and Paul Pogba potentially facing exile this week for the trip south to Wembley to face Spurs for a place in the FA Cup final.
“Rotating is not the right word,” he said. “If I play a player against Bournemouth and the player is phenomenal, he plays the semi-final. So is not rotating, because rotating looks like a player plays against Bournemouth to give a rest to somebody that is going to play against Spurs in the semi-final.
“So the word is not rotation, it is an opportunity for people, for some people to play and to try to get a place in the team for Spurs. Some of the guys that played today don't have a place in that team, they don't have a place in that team.”
Pushed on if he actually meant that those players would be dropped, Mourinho answered: “Yes. What is the criteria for a manager to choose a team?
“I only know one criteria. It is the way they play, is the only way I can select players. Or do you want me to go for the price they cost, or their salary, or their beautiful face? The only way is to go with performance.”
He stopped short of naming any players who potentially face the axe this week, but given how United struggled to break basement side West Brom down and failed to find the back of the net, his attack are believed to be most at risk.