Jose Mourinho has accused any Manchester United player not putting in maximum effort for him and the club of being “dishonest”.
Struggling United host Arsenal on Wednesday night and could find themselves 11 points adrift in the race for a Premier League top-four finish if they lose at Old Trafford.
Boss Mourinho has publicly criticised his under-performing players this season and claimed “some players care more than others” as he battles to haul United out of their current crisis.
But ahead of the crunch game, Mourinho said he retains the backing of his squad and said: “If you think a player only plays when, in your words, he is behind the manager, what I have to call these players or, in this case, what you are calling them, is dishonest.
“A football player is paid – and very well paid – to be a football professional.
“What is that? It’s to train every day to his limits, to play every game to his limits, to behave socially according to the nature of his job, to respect the millions of fans around the world and to respect the hierarchies of the club.
“If a player doesn’t do that, one thing is to perform well and not so well, another thing is to be a football professional.
“If you say that a player plays well or bad because of how good a manager is, you are calling the player dishonest.
“When pundits, who were professional players, say this player is not playing for the manager, did they do that when they were players? Were they dishonest players?
“If they were, they shouldn’t be in front of a camera speaking to millions of people.
“You have to analyse a player by ‘Is he performing, yes or no?’ You shouldn’t go in that direction, because you are calling the players dishonest.