LONDON • Manchester United's Jose Mourinho believes some players in his misfiring squad are hurting more than others, as speculation mounts over whether the beleaguered Portuguese manager's time in charge at Old Trafford is coming to an end.
A third defeat in seven Premier League games at West Ham on Saturday saw United fall nine points behind joint-leaders Manchester City and Liverpool.
But, speaking ahead of today's Champions League home clash with "difficult opponents" Valencia, Mourinho insisted that he did not fear for his job. But he stopped short of revealing whether he had met the club's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in the last few days, calling it a "private matter".
Mourinho also defended his players from accusations of not trying hard enough, but feels that some are taking United's slump in form more to heart than others.
"Some care more than others," he said at his pre-match press conference yesterday. "After 20 years of football, I'm still the kid I was. I'm still naive, but I still don't believe that a player is not honest.
"Until somebody who was a big professional player says, 'I was a dishonest player', I will always believe the players are honest players and want to give their best."
The 55-year-old also laughed off speculation that he had been contacted by former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, who resigned in June after leading the Spanish giants to three consecutive Champions League titles and is the bookmakers' favourite to replace him in the United hot seat if the club dispense with his services.
After 20 years of football, I'm still the kid I was. I'm still naive, but I still don't believe that a player is not honest... I will always believe the players are honest players and want to give their best.
JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, rejecting suggestions his players are not trying hard enough in their games.
A report in yesterday's edition of the Sun said the Frenchman had phoned Mourinho to reassure him that he was not plotting to take over at United.
When asked about the story, Mourinho turned the tables on the journalist who wrote the story by telling fellow reporters to ask him whether the story was true and joked his phone had been bugged.
Although Valencia are also in a rut with just one victory in eight games in all competitions, and have won only once in 10 visits to England - against Liverpool in October 2002 - Mourinho will have to negotiate his way past the Spanish side without the injured quartet of Ander Herrera, Ashley Young, Marcos Rojo and Jesse Lingard.
He also touched on Luke Shaw's scathing comments over the weekend after the West Ham loss, which the defender described as "awful" and "not good enough".
Mourinho urged everyone, even the non-playing staff at United, to band together as the Red Devils seek to put some daylight between the two teams in Group H.
"It's the responsibility of everyone. Everybody in the club - the kit man, the nutritionist - has a role to play," he added.
Midfielder Nemanja Matic echoed his boss' thoughts, saying: "We know we didn't do well in the last couple of games. Everyone will try to resolve the situation."
The Serb also revealed the squad have held clear-the-air talks, with standards in recent matches falling short of what is expected at United.
"Everyone is trying to win, especially against United. They (Valencia) have a big motivation to win," he said.
"We know we can do better. What I can say is everyone is trying to do more for the team. Tomorrow is great chance to do that against a big team."
MANCHESTER UNITED V VALENCIA
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