Jose Mourinho has told his embattled players to "grow up" and start living up to the pressure of representing Manchester United.
The Portuguese faced heavy criticism over his negative tactics in the Red Devils' shock Champions League last-16 exit to Sevilla on Tuesday, but came out fighting during an epic 12-minute tirade at a news conference previewing United's FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton and Hove Albion.
During the embargoed section of his press briefing, though, Mourinho had some choice words for a squad that flopped in Europe and find themselves 16 points adrift of rivals Manchester City in the Premier League.
Mourinho did not go so far as to call out the players he perceives to be under-performing, opting instead to praise Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku, but warned his squad they must be stronger to survive at Old Trafford.
"If you want to make a real top team, with a top mentality, you need to grow up and the best way is to have this kind of feeling," he said.
"Players have to learn how to cope with that level of expectation and that level of pressure. They have to survive, and when they survive, they become stronger.
"I said we are not one of the top teams, not one of the favourites to win. I told you that with these words because I cannot tell you with different words while I am still in competition.
"I cannot be in a competition, go there and say we have no chance. I couldn't tell you.
"You cannot expect me to say 'this and that player, they have to do better'. I prefer to say that Matic and Lukaku are performing at a high level until the last match.
"But I cannot tell you the ones that are not performing. I cannot tell you before a Champions League match."
Mourinho, though, rejected suggestions that United were favourites to progress against Sevilla, and claimed the team that is fifth in LaLiga are better equipped for success that his squad.
"We went out to a side that's more successful than Manchester United in the last seven years in Europe," he added.
"We went out to a side that has a huge tradition in knockout competitions, a side in the Spanish cup final. We're out to a team that knocked out Atletico Madrid in two legs.
"We were knocked out by a team that's brilliant in their approach for many years, with their scouting system, the way they invest with every Euro.
"Do you think they didn't have any players who could play in my team? In Sevilla, there are many players who would play in my team."
|Jardim one of the best in the world – Lopes praises Monaco boss amid interest|
|Napoli refusing to give up on Scudetto dream|
|It´s a good time for Iniesta to leave Barca, says father|
|Athletics´ Manaea no-hits Red Sox, Darvish struggles once again|
|Pelicans reach second round, 76ers take 3-1 lead and T-Wolves down Rockets|
|MLS Review: Five-star LAFC, Dynamo headline goal frenzy as Atlanta silence Ibra´s Galaxy|
|Busch pulls away to claim third successive NASCAR win|
|Sanchez hails legendary Wenger ahead of Arsenal exit|
|Valverde: Nothing behind Iniesta substitution amid growing CSL links|
|White Sox´s Farquhar in critical condition after brain haemorrhage|
|Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day DL|
|Hoffenheim boss Nagelsmann dismisses Arsenal and Chelsea links|
|Johnson, Landry tied for Texas lead as Mullinax sets course record|
|Gattuso, Mirabelli apologise to Milan fans after ´embarrassing´ Benevento loss|
|Marquez to start fourth after being stripped of Austin pole|
|Iniesta to make decision on his future public ´this week´|
|United want to win everything next year, says Wembley hero Sanchez|
|Cardiff edge Forest to boost promotion push|
|Bartomeu confirms Iniesta has an ´offer´ amid Chinese Super League reports|
|Messi second player to score in five Copa finals|
|Khan makes up for lost time with 40-second Lo Greco knockout|
|Mourinho challenges Alexis after Wembley star turn|
|Vieira ready for Arsenal job, says Guardiola|
|FA Cup win would represent successful season - Conte|
|Guardiola: I want Manchester City to be a Premier League machine|
|Marquez crashes before taking controversial pole in Austin|
|Sevilla 0 Barcelona 5: Suarez and Messi lead crushing Copa final win|
|Defending champion Selby dumped out in first round|
|AC Milan 0 Benevento 1: Rossoneri suffer again as bottom side stave off relegation...for now|
|Ulster stay alive in dramatic fashion as Bellini sparkles for Zebre|
|Semi-final pain for frustrated Kane|
|London stay was crucial to FA Cup Wembley win - Mourinho|
|Pochettino: Spurs need four more years – with me or another|
|Kaepernick honoured with Amnesty International award|
|He has not delivered optimal performances - Stoger explains Schmelzer omission|
|Kvitova and Pliskova put Czechs in control|
|Modric open to Ibrahimovic union in MLS|
|Spurs can´t keep doing this – Alli|
|Bulls keep Rebels waiting for South Africa win, Sharks beat Stormers|
|Heynckes highlights importance of ´psychology´ before Real Madrid clash|
|United are about winning titles and playing finals, says happy Herrera|
|Pogba and United the comeback kings again|
|Destructive De Villiers demolishes Daredevils|
|Giroud thanks Wenger for making his ´dream come true´|
|Borussia Dortmund 4 Bayer Leverkusen 0: Reus and Sancho star as Stoger´s side go third|
|Manchester United 2 Tottenham 1: Sanchez and Herrera seal comeback to book FA Cup final spot|
|Zaha´s no diver, insists Hodgson|
|Quiros maintains one-shot lead in Rabat|
|Championship Review: Wolves win title, Sunderland relegated|
|Nishikori fights back to reach Monte Carlo final|
|´Nothing compared to that night´ - Masters victory left Allen feeling flat|
|Imperious Leinster ease into Champions Cup final|
|Wilson backs Wenger for international role|
|West Brom comeback branded ´useless´ by Klopp|
|Injured Kyrgios doubtful for French Open|
|Packers QB Aaron Rodgers ventures into ownership, buys stake in NBA´s Bucks|
|Lewandowski breaks Bundesliga record in Bayern Munich victory|
|Watford 0 Crystal Palace 0: Stalemate edges both sides closer to survival|
|Inter not inferior to Roma and Lazio, Spalletti insists|
|Pogba and Sanchez start for Manchester United at Wembley|
|Gayle fires Kings XI to the top of the table|
|Klopp applauds Ings´ performance|
|Hannover 0 Bayern Munich 3: Lewandowski breaks Bundesliga record|
|Livermore urges West Brom to ´keep fighting´ as relegation looms|
|Eagles give QB Nick Foles a pay rise after Super Bowl win|
|Klopp blames ´dry pitch´ and referee for West Brom draw|
|Cardiff Blues book Challenge Cup final berth|
|Salah finds the net again to equal Premier League scoring record|
|Nadal marches on towards 11th Monte Carlo crown|
|West Brom 2 Liverpool 2: Careless Reds drop points to offer Baggies slim survival hope|