Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford were among the Manchester United players to arrive at the Lowry Hotel on Friday ahead of their Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.
The four players came in for stinging criticism from manager Jose Mourinho this week after he said some of his young stars lacked the ‘character’ and ‘personality’ to play for the club.
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.
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’.
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.