Jose Mourinho has emphatically dispelled questions surrounding his relationship with Paul Pogba, insisting he had never been happier with the Frenchman in his two years at Manchester United.
The Frenchman noted he would be “fined” for saying how he really felt about his situation at the club following the win over Leicester City on Friday, prompting widespread concern over his relationship with the boss.
Several tabloid reports emerged in the following days, with some suggesting their relationship was at an all time low. The club responded by insisting to Sky Sports correspondent James Cooper that relations between the pair were good.
And Mourinho, speaking at a press conference on Friday, made it extremely clear that he had no problems with Pogba in the slightest.
“The truth is we are together for two years and a couple of weeks and I’ve never been so happy with him as I am now, that’s the truth,” he said.
“I cannot demand more from him, I cannot ask more from him, he came here on a Monday, trained three days, I asked for his support for his contribution in an important match for us when the team had difficulties.
“He did it better and for more time than we could expect, when he says he did it for the fans and for the team is exactly what I want, is exactly what I demand from my players, he’s working well, playing well, he does for the fans, he does for the team and that’s what I want, to play for the team and I couldn’t be happier than what I am.”
“I don’t care [about Pogba’s quotes post Leicester]. I repeat: I want him to play well, I want him to play for that team,, the fans, and that is what it is.
“He’s working extremely well here but I have to say in his defence, write what you want about him, me, please don’t say lies, don’t put him in a situation that people can think he’s not a polite, educated guy, he is. He never had a fight with me. We never had a harsh exchange of words, everything is respected, I have no problems at all.”
When asked whether he expected another solid performance from Pogba against Brighton and Hove Albion, Mourinho said: “I am very confident but if he doesn’t that’s football, if he doesn’t that’s football. If his objective is to play for the team, for the fans, if this is the obj he has the right of a bad match, everybody has a bad day and has little ups and downs in the performance level and going back to the question is he the captain?
“No. Antonio Valencia…. last season we thought it was before the game against Basel, we thought young guy but good personality, made in academy, normally a starting line-up player, he has conditions to be captain in the future, and in the continuity of this he was the captain and he will be the captain again but when Antonio comes back he will be the captain.”
The rabble surrounding Pogba and Mourinho has reached such a level of hysteria over the last few days that the latter, normally ambiguous and cold in his interviews, has laid out clearly to everyone a dose of reality, rather than merely deflecting the question.
All it took was one quote from the Frenchman. That was enough to send things into overdrive. The pair may not always get on – who does?! – but they will, as professionals, always work towards getting results above anything. And the boss is rightly delighted with the way Pogba is working at this moment in time.