Football

Mourinho's tough love

Man United defender Bailly urges fellow youngsters to take manager's criticism in the right spirit

QUARTER-FINAL, 1ST LEG
ANDERLECHT MAN UNITED

Manchester United's youngsters must use manager Jose Mourinho's criticism as motivation for development, defender Eric Bailly has said.

Mourinho has been in the spotlight recently for his public criticism of 21-year-old defender Luke Shaw, but Bailly insists that the manager's assessment would serve as valuable learning experience for himself and his teammates.

"Most of the players at Manchester United are young... We are here to learn, so it is important to listen to the coach's advice and also the critics," Bailly said, ahead of United's Europa League quarter-final, first leg clash with Anderlecht tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

"Every player should receive some criticism because we are not perfect. So we have to accept the criticism from the coach and keep on working because the most important thing is to work and improve and gather experience."

Bailly, who turns 23 today, is one of six United players aged 24 or younger who have 10 or more league appearances this season, with several other youngsters in the squad yet to play.

Shaw was overlooked for the squad when heading to St Etienne and Rostov, but a whirlwind week has given him hope of being involved in Belgium.

His United future looked bleaker than ever when he was recently publicly eviscerated by Mourinho, yet a meeting with the manager led to a surprise substitute appearance against Everton and a start at Sunderland, with the left back performing admirably in both matches.

United beat the Black Cats 3-0 to go fifth in the Premier League, just four points behind fourth-placed Man City who have played a game more.

"I've got a massive smile on my face," Shaw said after just his second Premier League start in over five months.

"It's great to have got 60 minutes under my belt and to help the team get the victory we needed.

"I wanted to play 90 minutes but it is the manager's call and I think the manager made a good decision to sort of make sure I didn't get that second yellow.

"I felt really good, felt really fit and from here I just want to work hard in training and keep playing games.

WORK HARD

"I took what the manager said on board and, like I said, I will work hard until the end.

"I want to be at this place and hopefully I can carry on giving great performances for the club until the end of the season."

Shaw also said that United are heading to the Constant Vanden Stock with confidence, adding that the Europa League is the priority for United now.

He said: "Every single game is massive now, but I think the one on Thursday (against Anderlecht) is huge... but, yeah, the Europa League is a massive thing for us now - it's a trophy and it gives us qualification for the Champions League.

"I think we have to look at that as the priority.

"We've got to fight for that.

"Anderlecht will be tough, every team left in this stage of the competition will have quality. We've got to focus all week on what their strengths and weaknesses are, but most of all we need to focus on ourselves, what we do and how we play.

"With the players we have got, we can be unstoppable."

The Red Devils have won the three previous ties between the sides, most recently in the Champions League in 2000/01, while their record win was a 10-0 victory against Anderlecht in 1956. - WIRE SERVICES

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