Class of 92’s criticisms of me are driven by jealousy, says Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho
Player turned pundit Paul Scholes comes in for string of caustic put-downs but current boss believes ‘kings of rock and roll’ all want return to Old Trafford
Jose Mourinho has lambasted former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes after he criticised the manager and key players in his role as a TV pundit.
Scholes singled out Paul Pogba, the club’s record signing, after his anonymous performance in the weekend Premier League draw with Southampton.
But the French international was far more impressive in the 2-0 victory at Everton on New Year’s Day, which ended a run of three consecutive United draws and put the Red Devils 12 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City.
The victory allowed Mourinho to launch a remarkable verbal attack on Scholes, one of the storied “Class of 92” who was a key part of some of the greatest successes in United’s history.
“I think the only thing Paul Scholes does is criticise,” said Mourinho. “I don’t think he comments, I think he criticises, which is a different thing.
“Not every one of us has to be phenomenal like he was as a player. That does not mean that we all have to be phenomenal.”
Scholes accused Pogba of coasting through games and failing to make the sort of impact his £89 million (US$120 million) transfer fee demands.
But Mourinho was clearly in the mood to defend his player and claimed that part of Scholes’ attitude was fuelled by jealousy.
“Paul tries to do his best all the time,” he said. “Sometimes he plays very well, sometimes he plays well, sometimes he doesn’t play so well.
“It’s not Paul’s fault that he made much more money than Paul Scholes. It’s just the way football is.
“I think Scholes will be in history as a phenomenal player, not as a pundit. I prefer to look at him as a phenomenal player that gave so much to the club that I am proud to represent.”
The United manager, who won at Goodison thanks to superb goals from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, both of which were set up by Pogba, also believes that Scholes has a desire to break into management.
The former United player recently claimed his application for a job managing United’s under-23 team was turned down by the club’s management.
“If Paul one day decides to be a manager I wish that he can be 25 per cent as successful as myself,” said Mourinho.
“Fifty per cent of that is 12.5 silverware, 25 per cent is around six. If he’s 25 per cent, he’ll be quite happy.”
Mourinho did round off by calling Scholes “one of the best I’ve ever seen playing in midfield”.
“The prestige of this club is based on people like him, so successful here,” he said.
Scholes is the latest of the “Class of 92” to have voiced criticism of United under Mourinho, after Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville also made uncomplimentary comments – a point not lost on Mourinho who described them as “the kings of rock and roll.”
He said: “I think the performance was really good so maybe I am lucky this time – and the kings of rock and roll who say I was underperforming last match say, this time, I performed.
“I think they would love to be here. They would love to be at the club and that’s a problem I cannot resolve.”
Giggs was an assistant to previous United manager Louis van Gaal.
Mourinho also revealed that Romelu Lukaku, who was stretchered off early in the draw with Southampton, did not suffer a concussion and would be available for selection for United’s FA Cup tie with Derby on Friday.
Arsene Wenger made a similar criticism of former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry on Sunday, saying “I don’t listen to what he says” after the Frenchman claimed the Arsenal squad were riven by divisions over the attitude of Chilean star Alexis Sanchez.