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Jose Mourinho happy to take gamble on criticising players

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has stressed he does not care if criticising his players is a gamble, seeing it as "common sense" if they are not giving him 100 per cent.

A number of members of the United squad have been the subject of public criticism from Mourinho this season, with Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial two recent examples.

When asked if his approach was a calculated risk, Mourinho told Sky Sports on Tuesday: "I don't care. I don't even think about it.

"I just try to be who I am. I just try to be honest and direct, and I don't think about the consequences.

"You give me everything you have, I thank you for that. You don't give me everything you have, I ask you for more. That is just common sense."

Someone who has received praise of late from Mourinho is 19-year-old forward Marcus Rashford, scorer of three goals in United's last five games.

And Mourinho added ahead of Thursday's Premier League derby showdown with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium: "When you give everything you have, I cannot demand more from you, and Marcus, even not performing especially well, was giving absolutely everything.

"So I could never demand more from him. I could just support and say that better days will arrive, but (I am) always super happy with the approach from such a young and talented kid.

"Some other guys don't give everything they have, so that is the point - they have to. And when they do it, I am happy with them. It doesn't matter the way they perform."

United head into Thursday's contest with considerable injury problems, including what the club have described as "serious" knee ligament damage sustained last week by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, their 28-goal top scorer.

While Mourinho would not be drawn on the future of the 35-year-old Swedish striker, whose contract with United is due to expire this summer, he did confirm Ibrahimovic had travelled to the United States for surgery.

Mourinho said: "He is in America to have the surgery and start the recovering process, and that is the only thing that matters for us."

United are currently fifth in the table, one point behind fourth-placed City with both having five more league fixtures to go after Thursday's.

The Red Devils have already won the EFL Cup this season and have reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, a competition that has a Champions League spot for its winners.

Mourinho, who signed a three-year deal when he was appointed as United boss last summer, feels this term can be the first of several "better years" for the club.

"I always feel that the season is very important for me, for the players, for the club," the 54-year-old said.

"I would say it can be the first season of the next five or six or seven, who knows, but it can be the first season of better years."

Mourinho has also been keen to emphasise that the focus of the derby should not be himself and his old rival Pep Guardiola, the City boss.

Mourinho said: "This is about the clubs, the teams, the positions at the end of the season. This is not about myself and Guardiola."

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