Nemanja Matic believes Jose Mourinho's "special" aura is retained by his relentless will to win after a difficult week for the Manchester United manager.
Mourinho's side were dumped out of the Champions League last 16 by Sevilla on Tuesday, putting in a meek performance which led many to question the Portuguese's selection and tactics.
Things improved on Saturday as United advanced to the FA Cup semi-finals by seeing off Brighton and Hove Albion, but Mourinho was scathing in his assessment of that showing and accused his team of being "scared" to play.
Only Matic was singled out for praise, described as "an island of personality" against the Seagulls and the Serbian, having won the Premier League title with Mourinho at Chelsea, is only too aware of his exacting standards.
"He's special because he wants to win, always," Matic said. "You can see when we lose a game he cannot accept that. Probably that's why he won more than 20 trophies in his life.
"It's very difficult to work with him, because he always wants more and more.
"Even if you win the league, he wants to win again next season. He's like this and the players need to be ready for that. I like it when the manager always wants better and better, so you have to improve always, always do your best. I like this kind of work, this kind of relationship.
"At this high level at Manchester United, and where I used to play at Chelsea, the players need to be ready for that because the pressure is big.
"Everyone expects you to win every game. Obviously it's not possible, but supporters always expect. It doesn't matter if you're tired or not, supporters want high quality football. It's normal."
Mourinho has been critical of his players - with the likes of Luke Shaw in particular coming under fire - and Matic was hesitant to confirm that only those with a certain mental strength can flourish under the Portuguese.
"I think this is a question for him," he said. "I'm doing my best and I'm happy to work with him, I'm happy to be part of his team, this club. I think he respects what I'm doing every day, not only in the game, but in the training sessions and I'm happy for that and I'll continue like this."
United's sole hope of silverware this season comes in the form of the FA Cup, in which they will take on Tottenham in the last four for a chance to play Southampton or Chelsea in the final.
"In the Premier League you have six or seven teams who want to win the league, so it's not possible to always win," added Matic, with Manchester City enjoying a 16-point lead in England's top flight.
"But if we win the FA Cup it's good, but not perfect. You have four competitions in the season - if you win one, for me, it's not enough, but you always have to do your best.
"In the Premier League, when you're in the first four, it's not perfect, but it's good to play for the Champions League next season. If you win the FA Cup, I cannot say it's a successful season, but it's a good season."
|Osaka continues run, Pliskova awaits in Tokyo final|
|Cardinals keep pace in wildcard race with win over Giants|
|Djokovic hits Federer, pair lose in doubles at Laver Cup|
|Nowitzki likely to come off bench for Mavericks in 21st season|
|Red Wings´ Green battling ´virus that attacked his liver´|
|They said I couldn´t score goals – Ibrahimovic hits back at early critics|
|Slater charged, set to miss Grand Final|
|Rose not changing approach alongside Woods|
|Woods ready to ´hang in there´ at East Lake|
|Shaqiri´s time will come at Liverpool – Klopp|
|Richarlison: I used to copy some of Neymar´s haircuts|
|Brady says Gordon is ´really eager to get in there´ despite limited practice|
|NBA changes clock-reset, ´clear path´ foul rules|
|Tigers´ Martinez will play final game on Saturday before retiring|
|Sanchez to start for Man United – Mourinho|
|Speight saves Ulster in thrilling Cheetahs draw|
|Simmonds at the double as Chiefs stay perfect|
|Woods, Rose share Tour Championship lead|
|Ice-cool Shoaib denies Afghanistan in final over|
|CAF Champions League Review: Wydad Casablanca out as TP Mazembe pay penalty|
|Eden inspires rout as Castleford book Wigan semi-final|
|Thiem & Wawrinka reach St. Petersburg semi-finals|
|No change to Aguero selection despite new contract, warns Guardiola|
|Woods and Rose share Tour Championship lead|
|Wigan Athletic 1 Bristol City 0: Three on the trot for improving Latics|
|Josh Rosen will play ´when time is right,´ Cardinals GM says|
|Eagles RBs Ajayi & Sproles out Sunday v Colts|
|Ronaldo looking forward after Champions League red card - Alex Sandro|
|Rangers fire manager Jeff Banister after four seasons|
|Inter captain Icardi can improve - Spalletti|
|Jadeja and Rohit shine as India maintain 100 per cent record|
|Fisher shares lead in Vilamoura after record-breaking 59|
|Messi the best I´ve seen - Lamela|
|Silva demands end to Gomes ´rumours´ and targets early October return|
|Milner over Pogba, says Souness|
|Brazil call up Malcom, drop Thiago Silva and Willian|
|Denly thought Test chance may never come|
|Benitez tells FA to examine Zaha red card comments|
|Bjorn unsure of future after Ryder Cup|
|Tebas still optimistic over Girona-Barcelona in Miami despite RFEF setback|
|Emery promises more chances for frustrated Leno|
|Cahill considering Chelsea departure in January|
|Kaepernick to receive Harvard´s highest honour in African, African-American studies|
|Defending champion Ostapenko dumped out of Korea Open|
|Mourinho is an inspiration - Nuno|
|Witty Wilson ´delighted´ to be praised for Fisher heroics while sitting on couch|
|Burns, Denly and Stone in England squad for Sri Lanka Tests|
|Aspas reveals interest from Real Madrid, Atletico|
|Arsenal´s Mkhitaryan a doubt for Everton match|
|Klopp demands Liverpool ´stay angry´ against Southampton|
|Long-serving Tabarez signs four-year Uruguay extension|
|Injured Mendy ruled out of Cardiff trip|
|Douglas Costa out up to a month with ankle & thigh injuries|
|Slater shrugs off Feki hit amid Grand Final suspension concerns|
|Crisis? What crisis? Klopp unconcerned by Salah form|
|I didn´t convince him, he decided for himself - Guardiola says thanks to Aguero|
|Leno frustrated by Arsenal bench role|
|Joshua almost 2st heavier than Povetkin for Wembley bout|
|From salvation to the record books - Fisher revels in European Tour´s first 59|
|Lahm says Germany best for Euro 2024 as UEFA publishes report|
|Lopetegui backs Modric over Ronaldo for individual prizes|
|Goretzka to start against former club Schalke, confirms Kovac|
|Fisher shoots first 59 in European Tour history|
|Simeone defends Ronaldo after controversial Champions League red|
|Slater sees Storm into Grand Final, awaits fate over ´shoulder charge´|
|Hogg to miss Scotland´s November Tests following ankle surgery|
|Osaka through as Azarenka and Garcia crash out|
|Burgess weighing up legal options after being cleared in Rabbitohs investigation|
|Uncapped Cottrell and Gordon named in Wallabies squad|
|He´s done fantastic work - Mourinho hails Wolves boss Nuno|