Cracks had started to appear in January 2018 but Mourinho and Pogba’s relationship took a truly sour turn this season, with the 55-year-old stripping his player of the vice-captaincy and reportedly describing him as a ‘virus’ in the dressing room.
Pogba has found a new lease of life since Mourinho’s sacking before Christmas, scoring four goals and claiming three assists in five games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Mathias, who plays for French side Tours, made note of how Mourinho always tended to make things about him, and that he should have placed more trust in Pogba.
“It was Mourinho who was the problem,” he said. “Mourinho still wants to be the centre of attention. The problem was Mourinho, right down the line.”
“In the locker room, outside the locker room…everything, I know my brother, and you tell him, ‘Go. Go play ‘, the rest, he will do it.
“From what we see of Mourinho, he always wants to be the maestro, the centre of attention.
“(Paul) does not even calculate that aspect: you respect him, he will respect you, you trust him, he will produce big performances.”
There are a number of tactical reasons to explain why Pogba and Mourinho were always going to be incompatible.
What really matters, though, is the element of trust. Pogba needs a manager who actively wants the the Frenchman to play games on his own terms, to play up the pitch, to play with genuine freedom on the ball. Sometimes this can backfire; more often than not, it produces something special.
Mourinho did not have this trust in Pogba. He resented the idea of the Frenchman playing unshackled, running forward to join attacks. It was something he never felt comfortable with.
In the end, the 55-year-old’s distrust of Pogba and many others alienated the dressing room to the extent that players simply stopped running for their manager, laying the platform for an inevitable sacking.