Pogba probing shot down by Mourinho as form questions rile Man Utd boss
Posted On March 22, 2019
The Portuguese wants a good showing from the Frenchman against Valencia, but would not answer a question about getting the best from the player
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho gave short shrift to a question on Tuesday about how he can get the best out of Paul Pogba.
Pogba is set to start Wednesday’s Champions League match against Valencia, having missed out on a place in the first XI for Premier League games against Arsenal and Fulham after being taken off in the 2-2 draw with Southampton.
Mourinho was asked what he needs to do to coax consistently good performances out of the World Cup winner, but he was not happy with the line of questioning.
“I don’t think your question goes in the direction of what I want to answer or listen,” he told a news conference. “I don’t like your question. You can put the question from another direction. I don’t like the direction.”
When asked what he hopes for from Pogba at Mestalla, Mourinho replied: “I’m looking for him to play well and to have a good impact in the game and a good impact in the team, a team with many players that don’t have many miles in their legs.
“I hope that people like Paul and a couple of others that are normally in the team, and have the miles that players need to be at a good level, can have a good impact in the team.”
Pressure on Mourinho was eased somewhat with Saturday’s 4-1 win over Fulham at the end of a week in which his agent, Jorge Mendes, issued a statement insisting the club is “very happy” with his client.
Mourinho, though, claimed it was nothing to do with him, saying: “I’ve nothing to do with the statement. It’s not my statement. I didn’t know [it was coming] and I don’t care about it.”
Mourinho also stressed he has no problem with Romelu Lukaku speaking publicly about his need to reduce muscle mass and the fact he held frank discussions with the United boss after he was dropped from the side.
“Romelu told you but I didn’t tell you,” he said. “It’s not a problem for me, he was absolutely honest, he told you exactly the truth, I’m perfectly fine with that, but that was Romelu’s decision, not me coming to you and telling you I had a meeting with him.
“And Romelu is not the only player I have meetings with. I have them when I feel I can have a positive impact on the players, when I feel the players are open to it. I do it when the players give me indications that they really want to improve and are really open for someone with more experience than them.”
United take on Valencia knowing their place in the last 16 is assured, although a victory could see them top the group if Juventus fail to beat Young Boys.
Mourinho plans to give several first-team squad members the chance to impress, but youngsters James Garner and Mason Greenwood will not be involved from the start.
“They don’t start. Garner will be on the bench and Mason is the protection player in case we have any injuries,” he said.
“We have players that need to play, we have players that deserve to play. We left a few players in Manchester, [but] we are going to play with a team only with players from the first team.
“Football is football and anything can happen but, normally, Juventus should win the match in Switzerland, so I don’t think the result of the match will have an impact on finishing first or second. In spite of that, it’s Manchester United, professional players who want to do well.”