Despite his indifferent form, José Mourinho has told Paul Pogba to forget his world-record £92.5m transfer fee and just “play his football”. Although Pogba played in his preferred false 10 position in the game against Feyenoord, the team had slumped to a 0-1 defeat in the Europa league clash.
Paul Pogba has been a hunted man – after his world-record transfer, the jury was always going to be out, and he has not done himself any favors with his performances ever since his arrival at Old Trafford. The Frenchman has not scored or provided an assist so far in the four games since his return to the United Red.
United slumped to a 0-1 defeat in their Europa opener against Dutch side Feyenoord on Thursday – quick on the heels of the derby defeat at home against Manchester City, the situation has not helped cover up for Pogba's form as well.
Pogba played in a deeper role in the derby and had a marginal impact on play, but despite being moved ahead to his favored false 10 position for the Europa encounter, he has not shown any results. However, Mourinho has backed his understudy and said, “I just want Paul to forget that and to play his football. No pre-season; [after the] Euro final, holidays then come back. It’s normal that in the first week he had the very good impact in the first game. It’s normal that after the first game he has a little decrease. But I am full of trust with him because I know the player he is. I know he is a very good guy with a lot of ambition so the form will come naturally and will come with the team improving. The team improves, he will improve – no problem.”
Asked where he wants Pogba to operate on a regular basis, Mourinho said: “He can play where he was playing before in the Premier League, where he did against Feyenoord. It’s not a problem with his position – he feels comfortable in [either].
“It depends on the situation. In the Premier League we were playing with Wayne Rooney as a No.10, and against Feyenoord we played with [Morgan] Schneiderlin in front of the back four and we gave him more freedom to occupy other spaces,” reported BBC.
Mourinho brushed aside the concerns of the transfer fee weighing down on the midfielder. “The world-record player is always a question that will be open until somebody breaks the record,” the manager said. “There are clubs that paid 20, 30, 40 million, which is a bigger deal than United paid for Paul because you make a relation between what you pay and the club revenue and you realise that other clubs paying 20, 30, 40 is a much bigger thing than what United did,” reported the Guardian.
He does have a point there even if it is debatable – Pogba's £92.5m as a percentage of United's annual revenue of £513m is much less compared to Crystal Palace's £27m purchase of Christian Benteke last month with their turnover figure of £102.4m. But, that is not going to silence anyone anytime soon.
Mourinho would desperately hope that the weekend fixture against Watford does not provide any shockers to the already beleaguered squad.
“I always say that the best motivation you can have is your own motivation,” he said. “I am an extra source of motivation but the motivation belongs to the player. The great life, the money they have to do what they want, I think they shouldn’t need an extra source of motivation, that belongs to themselves so I believe in that. I believe on Sunday they will try to win the match and give everything and I will be just by them to try to help.”
Mourinho, though, brushed off suggestions that the Watford match had assumed enormous importance to United’s campaign now. “Watford? I think Man United has to show every game, every game, every competition. The club is too big, the supporters are too passionate for the professionals not to feel that every game is a very important game,” he said.