Jose Mourinho has told Paul Pogba to start shouldering the blame for his poor Manchester United form.
The United manager said questions about Pogba’s struggles needed to be directed at the France midfielder and insisted the player’s current woes had nothing to do with his near 10-week lay-off earlier in the season.
Pogba has started just four of United’s last 11 games over the past two-and-a-half months, during which time his relationship with Mourinho has become strained.
The 25-year-old scored during an impressive showing in France’s 3-1 win over Russia in St Petersburg on Tuesday, when he was subjected to racist taunts from home fans, amid hope of an upturn in his form.
But Mourinho declined an invitation to praise Pogba’s display, before he insisted he was doing everything he could to get the best out of his £89m signing. Asked what Pogba’s poor form was down to, Mourinho replied: “Ask him. Ask him when you get a chance what he thinks about it.”
When Mourinho was asked what he could do to help Pogba realise his potential, the manager – whose side face Swansea at Old Trafford today – said: “I work. I cannot do anything else.” Mourinho was also insistent Pogba’s absence with a torn hamstring for over two months has had no bearing on the player’s troubles since the turn of the year.
“His option, with the medical opinions, was not to go to the surgery table and his recovery was really, really good and I think he is more than fine, which is an area sometimes where you have a recurrence,” Mourinho said. “In his case – not at all. It is nothing to do with his injury. His recovery was good.”
Pogba offered Didier Deschamps a frank account of his problems during talks with the France coach on international duty. There were also reports of Mourinho speaking to Deschamps about Pogba, but the United manager denied having any dialogue with him. “Not true, I think the last time I spoke with Didier Deschamps was probably when we played against each other many years ago,” he said.
Luke Shaw is another player enduring a tough time under Mourinho. The left-back was subjected to another scathing attack after being substituted at half-time of United’s 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final win over Brighton a fortnight ago. Some players and staff at Old Trafford fear Mourinho’s relentless criticism of Shaw is tantamount to “bullying” and there were reports on Friday that the defender asked the manager at half-time of the Brighton game: “Why are you always picking on me?”
Asked if he expected Shaw to still be at the club next season, Mourinho said: “I think so.”
Mourinho also defended his treatment of Shaw, who could be granted a reprieve against Swansea, with Ashley Young racing to prove his fitness after suffered a knock to the knee in England’s 1-1 draw against Italy on Tuesday. “You are saying he asked me why I changed him?” Mourinho said. “A report that Luke asked me, ‘Why I changed him?’ I told him. He didn’t ask me the question. I told him.”
“I am the coach,” he said. “I make the changes I want to do. He’s selected (against Swansea). He’s in the 18.” (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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