Victor Lindelof has been Manchester United’s best outfield player this season and drew praise from his manager Jose Mourinho after the 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace.
The Portuguese praised the centre half for being ‘brave’ and playing on through the pain against the Eagles, calling on some of his team-mates to follow his ‘fantastic example’.
Coming on the back of Mourinho’s comments about the immaturity of some of his players, it was hard not to connect the two.
The need to box clever
Mourinho revealed that Lindelof returned back from international duty carrying an injury but started regardless against Palace and then continued after pulling up late in the game with United having used all three substitutes.
Of course the fans love to see players playing through the pain and showing their commitment to the cause, but even without the access to all the medical data Mourinho can no doubt see, they will have feared that Lindelof would worsen the injury by playing on.
So it has proved, Lindelof has been ruled out until the new year, which is a major blow given how impressive his form has been this season.
Consider the bigger picture
It is understandable that Mourinho didn’t want Lindelof to come off with the game so finely balanced on Saturday, but he must have known he was risking making the injury worse by asking him to play on.
Sir Alex Ferguson was so adept at forward planning that he knew who he was going to drop and bring in weeks before the actual game; Mourinho is so short-sighted he couldn’t see beyond the end of Saturday’s match.
United need battling spirit like Lindelof’s but it is completely understandable if players do not want to play through injuries and make them worse; after all, they can’t help the team from the sidelines.
That grit has to be married with more sensible decision making; the kind for which Mourinho is handsomely paid.