The manager suggested that the centre-back was not willing to push through the pain barrier for his side, but the defender sees that as a positive
Chris Smalling puts Jose Mourinho’s criticism of him down to frustration and insists he has nothing to prove to the Manchester United manager.
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Mourinho hit out at Smalling last season, suggesting after a November match with Swansea City that the defender was not willing to play through pain, a problem later revealed to be a broken toe.
The United boss also hit out at the centre-back and team-mate Phil Jones for the speed of their recoveries after they both suffered injuries in the same training session while on England duty in March.
Smalling has not received an apology from Mourinho but feels the manager was just showing his frustration in a professional manner, adding that his injury absence also annoyed him.
“No, it’s just professional,” Smalling told reporters when asked if Mourinho had said sorry.
“All of us are professionals and no player wants not to play. That was all just [him being] professional – get on with the rehab and then get out as quickly as you can.
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“I think that was directed at everybody. We had a lot of injuries at that time and he was frustrated that quite a lot of players weren’t available.
“I think in the Chelsea game [in October] I proved that I would play with injections. As players, it is not about always being 100 per cent. It’s about going on the pitch and doing a job.
“I had done the injury, I played on and it turned out there was a break. I had a couple of injections but it got worse and that’s when I had the layoff.
“You always want to push yourself because you don’t want to let the fans or players down. Obviously he didn’t know the full extent at that time. I don’t think he knew the full picture then and once it was cleared up it was all good.”
— Chris Smalling (@ChrisSmalling) May 24, 2017
On the double injury with Jones, the 27-year-old added: “We don’t hold anything back, either for our clubs or on international duty, so injuries are going to come.
“It was unfortunate that we are obviously from the same club. That’s been the story of this season, unfortunately. I’ve been lucky in previous seasons not to be too injury-prone.
“The manager has shown his frustration but we [injured players] are just as frustrated.
“When I’m sitting down with the manager and the medical staff, we set out a timeline and then we try to shave it and push and push.
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“It’s good when he shows that frustration because it shows he wants you back out on that pitch. If he wasn’t interested, he would just leave you alone and he wouldn’t say any of these things.
“So I take it as a positive, as a challenge to get back as quickly as I can – which I would have done anyway, regardless of whatever was said.
“I don’t think I’ve got anything to prove as such. I think he knows my character, he knows what type of player I am and that’s not changed.”