Man United boss Jose Mourinho refuses to comment on Paul Pogba's controversial remarks

Simon Peach 24/08/2018
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Jose Mourinho's position as United manager is under scrutiny.

Jose Mourinho declined to offer his opinion on the comments made by Manchester United star Paul Pogba.

Sunday’s embarrassing 3-2 Premier League defeat at Brighton has left United reeling, with intense scrutiny on the manager, players and background operations this week.

Questions also remain over the happiness of Pogba, with his agent Mino Raiola this week taking aim at United great Paul Scholes for questioning the France international’s leadership at Brighton.

Pogba admitted his “attitude was not right enough” on the south coast, but Mourinho was distant when asked about it.

The United boss said: “If you want any explanation about Paul’s words you must get him and ask him.”

But getting a chance to speak to Pogba appears as easy as it was to get a straight answer out of Mourinho on Friday.

The United boss refused to talk in depth about Tottenham, despite having previously admonished journalists for failing to ask enough about the opposition.

Mourinho was perhaps most forthcoming when it came to the group’s reaction to the Brighton loss.

“Difficult is after the match you lose. (It) is always difficult, especially for people who really care about the job, about being football professionals,” he said. “But after that you think about the next match.

“You do the same when you win. When you win, you have to move on and focus (on) what (is) next. Imagine, when you lose you have to do even more.”

Yet not even the gradual alleviation of United’s injury issues could raise a smile.

The Portuguese added: “I don’t know because today is still Friday and training Saturday, training Sunday, match Monday.

“Decisions (are) to be made Sunday but yes (Nemanja Matic and Antonio Valencia are) training with the team. (Diogo) Dalot is also training with the team for the first time this week, so in terms of (the) medical department they are almost free.”

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Jose Mourinho insists relationship with Man United chief Ed Woodward is fine

Simon Peach 24/08/2018
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Jose Mourinho denied any rift with Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward during a tetchy pre-match press conference.

Sunday’s embarrassing 3-2 Premier League defeat at Brighton has left United reeling, with intense scrutiny on the manager, players and background operations this week.

Mourinho curtly brushed aside such talk ahead of Monday’s clash against Tottenham, with the manager surprising reporters by starting his press conference 30 minutes early.

Asked about the reaction to the loss to Brighton, the United boss retorted: “Don’t ask me because I don’t read (it).

“I don’t know 10 per cent of what is written, I don’t know 10 per cent of what is coming on the TV screens, so I’m not the right guy to answer to it.”

Mourinho gave little away ahead of the Spurs match, answering 13 questions – often brusquely – in a little more than four tense minutes.

The United boss was dismissive when asked whether there had been an overreaction to the Brighton defeat – “you are pessimistic, I’m not” – and curt when asked about his relationship with Woodward.

“Of course (our relationship is fine),” he said. “No (problem at all).”

The Portuguese has made clear his frustration over the lack of extra summer signings, with the failure to improve at the back coming back to haunt them in their last game.

Yet Mourinho refused to talk about the defensive partnership of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof in a pre-match press conference as uncomfortable as United’s week.

Odds on Mourinho leaving Old Trafford have tumbled, while a group of fans are said to be planning to have a plane fly over an upcoming match calling for the exit of Woodward.

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It's time for Paul Pogba to show why he's been made Man United captain

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Time for Paul Pogba to step up.

“I put myself first. My attitude wasn’t right.”

Paul Pogba talked a good game on Sunday after Manchester United‘s shock 3-2 loss to Brighton – certainly, a better game than the one he’d just had on the pitch.

There, he’d delivered a disjointed, below-par display emblematic of his team’s. He had one bright moment – a long-range shot in the second half which would have been a stunning goal but for the fingertips of Brighton goalkeeper Matt Ryan – and he did end up scoring, albeit only a last-ditch penalty to halve the two-goal deficit purely for the purposes of making the final scoreline look slightly more respectable.

And that was the sum of his contribution to the game, in a situation which was tailor-made for a captain to lead the charge. Instead, he looked frustrated, rarely got the best aspects of his game going – the skill, power, and vision he showcases on his best days. He was dispossessed five times and only completed one of his five attempted dribbles.

Yet his post-match performance will have done him a few favours. United didn’t lose because of Pogba. It was Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof’s defending which took care of that, allowing Brighton to score three soft goals. Pogba’s fault lay in not being able to do anything to bring United back from the brink.

Just before his admission of guilt, he subtly called out his colleagues, saying the entire team’s attitude wasn’t right. But by putting his own display under the harsh glare of the spotlight soon after, he accepted he would take the brunt of the public criticism.

His comments were almost that of a manager, deflecting attention from his team-mates’ mistakes by taking responsibility for his own. Somewhere in the vicinity, Jose Mourinho may have felt a sense of pride. Sir Alex Ferguson would certainly have appreciated the move.

Pogba knows who he is now – a World Cup winner and Man United captain. On the pitch, the buck stops with him. That he has the self-awareness to accept the weight of it, and call himself out when he felt he deserved it, shows why United have entrusted him with the armband.

It’s ironic that two games into the role, the Frenchman has questioned his own attitude.

Part of the turmoil surrounding United this summer has stemmed from Mourinho doing the exact same thing, challenging the 25-year-old to translate his World Cup success into something more consistent, more lasting at club level.

When the manager said Pogba needs to remember why he was able to star for France, and then apply it to United, he was basically making the same statement which came to Pogba in the aftermath of the demoralising loss on Sunday.

But post-match interviews in defeats are not where the referendums on Pogba’s captaincy will be conducted. If he’s publicly declared his attitude wasn’t the right one for a particular match, the next time he steps out onto the pitch, he has to show that he’s fixed that problem. Leadership and responsibility need to be shown during the game, not after it.

So all eyes will be on him on Monday, when United take on Tottenham in the team’s first big game of the season.

Spurs have won both of their opening games and will come to Old Trafford full of confidence, especially if they sense, like many others do, that their hosts are a team in crisis.

It’s up to Pogba to show his post-match comments weren’t mere words. He needs to be a leader on the pitch, rallying his teammates, giving them an example to follow, and sending out a message to his own team and everyone else that while he’s on the pitch, his attitude can carry United to victory just as much as his match-winning ability.

He’s shown he can talk the talk when it comes to being captain. But now it’s time for him to walk the walk.

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