Manchester United defender Phil Jones has hailed Jose Mourinho’s honest approach to the media and his squad.
Mourinho enjoyed arguably the best match of his spell at Old Trafford to date on Thursday, as United swept aside Europa League opponents Feyenoord with a 4-0 win at Old Trafford.
The former Chelsea boss has found himself at loggerheads with the media at times this season, most recently refusing to discuss the fitness of defender Chris Smalling as a result of conflicting reports over a rumoured toe injury.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese has called some of his players’ application into question in public, suggesting Smalling and Luke Shaw were not brave enough to play through the pain barrier against Swansea City and urging star signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan to do more to win his place in the side.
But Jones, who has started United’s last three games after shaking off fitness worries, says a forthright approach from the manager is vital.
Asked if Mourinho is the same with his players as he is with the press, Jones said: “He’s exactly the same. He’s honest, and that’s all you can ask for as a player.
“Players need to know when they’ve done right and wrong and he does that.
“He always gave me confidence. I felt good in training and he’s given me the chances I wanted.”
Jones’ future at United was called into question when Mourinho took charge and he was linked with a possible move to Arsenal and Stoke City during the transfer window.
However, when asked if there was anything concrete to the rumours, the 24-year-old said: “No, definitely not. One hundred per cent no.”
Indeed, Jones is now focused on stringing together performances at the heart of the United defence – something Mourinho said he had not managed to do for a number of years due to injuries.
“I need to look after myself but I’m just delighted to be back playing and in the dressing room,” he said.
United’s win over Feyenoord means they need just a draw against Zorya Luhansk to secure their place in the knockout phase, and Jones was thrilled to take all three points after three consecutive league draws at home in which they have been punished for not killing off the encounter.
“We found it a bit difficult first half to break them down and didn’t really stop them playing out as well as we could have,” he said. “But once we got to grips with that, it was only a matter of time until we scored again and killed the game.
“Against Stoke, Burnley, Arsenal… it’s important once we’re ahead to kill games off and that’s the next step that we need to get to. We need to learn that quick because we can’t keep doing it [letting leads slip away].
“It’s difficult when you concede a last-minute goal but you’ve got to keep going, you can’t dwell on it.
“Since the manager’s come in, he’s done brilliant and the players are enjoying playing football. We just need to win more games. We’ve got a good result and now we need to finish it off against Zorya.”