England Under-21 manager Gareth Southgate has given his backing to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho for his public dressing down of youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the Daily Express reports.
Mourinho gave the starlet midfielder some game time towards the end of last season once the title had already been wrapped up, suggesting that he is seen as being a more regular squad member in the near future.
However, following a post-season friendly against Australian side Sydney FC, Mourinho labelled Loftus-Cheek’s performance in that game as unacceptable.
Having been brought on as a substitute, the 19-year-old lasted just 27 minutes before being replaced, before claiming that their relationship had taken “one step back”.
But Southgate says that he understands why the Portuguese tactician gave him such a public lambasting, claiming that it will be good for him in the long run.
“We’ve had a chat about it and he knows he wasn’t at the level that’s needed. He knows what he has to do. He’s a very determined kid but he’s young so we keep challenging him,” he said.
“In a sense it was good what Mourinho said, as if he didn’t care about him he wouldn’t make those kind of comments.
“He has made sure that with us he’s right there and he’s on time for everything. It’s a lesson learned really. I don’t think he needed a kick, because his level had been fine.
“But he has obviously had a little dip and been reminded that there’s no room for dips. You tend to be tougher on young players. There’s a phrase ‘be tough on talent’ and he is a talented player.
“We’ve not had any indication that there’s a problem with his training and that there’s a character there are issues with.
“This is a good kid and we wouldn’t have brought him into the squad if he wasn’t. He has had a dip and had a little reminder of what he needs to do. In that sense it’ll be beneficial to him.
“That’s how we view the national teams. Players come here and we reinforce the messages of the clubs. It’s not a case of putting an arm round their shoulder and saying ‘aren’t they being horrible to you at your club?’ We’ve got to drive them as well as we want the same thing.”
Loftus-Cheek has been included in Southgate’s Under-21 squad for the European Championships, and will likely play some part in the team’s final preparations game against Belarus on Thursday.
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