Nemanja Matic, one of Jose Mourinho’s most trusted players, has issued a rallying cry as Manchester United look to end their latest poor run.
Saturday’s shock 3-1 loss at West Ham made this the club’s worst start to a league campaign in 29 years and saw the odds on the Portuguese leaving Old Trafford tumble.
Mourinho’s side are in the midst of a difficult three-match winless run as they prepare to face Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday night, when Matic says the team need to step up.
The squad have spoken amongst themselves about their latest poor run, but the defensive midfielder underlined that now is a time for actions rather than words.
“I don’t think with talking you can resolve something,” Matic said. “The leaders need to be on the pitch.
“The leaders are the players who are not scared to play. We will see tomorrow. Tomorrow and in the next games we will see who are the leaders.
“For me, if you talk in the dressing room that doesn’t mean anything. Sometimes it can help but the most important is on the pitch.”
Leadership has been an issue for United this season, with Paul Pogba having been stripped of captaincy responsibilities since their last Champions League match and first-choice skipper Antonio Valencia regularly absent.
The Ecuadorian was not part of the squad that travelled to east London on Saturday, when Matic held his hands up for under-performing in a galling loss.
“We didn’t play well on Saturday, but we gave our best in that moment,” Matic said.
“Why we didn’t do well, for sure the manager is going to tell us. He is going to show us some videos where we made mistakes and where we can do better.
“This game was really bad but everyone has a responsibility for that. I don’t believe that any player goes onto the pitch not giving his best.
“Everyone who started the game wants to do better for himself, and after that it’s better for the team.
“For me, I played one of the worst games since I signed for Man United. I look in the mirror and I want to see where I made mistakes and where I can do better. For sure, everyone does the same.”
Few know Mourinho better than Matic, who followed the manager to Old Trafford having worked under him in good times and bad at Chelsea.
The 30-year-old was prevented from being asked about the feeling around this squad compared to the one that fell out with Mourinho towards the end of his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
Matic says “everyone is giving his best to do better for the team” and they approach Tuesday’s Group H match without fear.
“Pressure is always there,” he added. “All my life I play with pressure, also my team-mates.
“We are not scared to play. Everyone is trying to win. Everyone has a big motivation to win against Manchester United.
“We know that, and we have to be ready. We were not ready in the last few games.
“Everyone want to fight against us, but we are not scared to play and I’m sure we will show that in the next few games.”