Mourinho has said some of his young stars lacked the ‘character’ and ‘personality’ to play for Manchester United.
The manager named Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard as he claimed modern players mature slowly because they are over-protected.
His comments came to light the day after striker Romelu Lukaku told team-mates who have fallen out with Mourinho to ‘deal with it — you’re a grown-a** man’.
In a Spanish TV interview with former Barcelona star Hristo Stoichkov, Mourinho admitted some young players lack maturity.
‘The people who surround the players, who protect them too much, give them too much care, too many excuses. Everyone has an excuse,’ he said.
‘People mature more slowly. For example, Luke Shaw, left back of the national team. He didn’t know how to compete. He had great potential, yes, but didn’t know how to compete.
‘Martial, Lingard, Marcus Rashford — we’re talking about great potential but who are missing a word I can’t use but you like to use. They are missing a bit of that. Character, personality, as they say in Spain, bad blood, that natural aggression.’
Mourinho declined to discuss those comments on Friday but it has been apparent for some time that he feels his squad is not sufficiently battle-hardened to challenge the best in Europe or the Premier League.
United are eighth going into Saturday’s home game against Crystal Palace although Mourinho believes he can lift them into the top four in the eight games left this year.
Martial, Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini are all available for Saturday despite withdrawing from international duty through injury. Shaw is suspended.
Mourinho said he was in Belgium during the international break where Lukaku was treated for a hamstring strain. He also spoke to Belgium coach Roberto about Lukaku’s lack of goals for United.
Lukaku has scored five in four games for Belgium this season but the last of his four for United came in mid-September.
Alexis Sanchez, United’s other senior striker, has been tipped to leave in January but Mourinho played down the idea while saying: ‘Can he do better? We can all do better.’
Mourinho also suggested that veteran keeper Iker Casillas is behind a Spanish media campaign against United’s David de Gea in an effort to reclaim his place in the national team.