Jose Mourinho questions focus on Paul Pogba after Sevilla draw
‘Old Trafford needs a big Champions League night and it’s going to get it’
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho gives instructions to his players during the Champions League round of 16 first leg match against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium. Photograph: Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images
Jose Mourinho refused to be drawn on the absence of Paul Pogba from his starting line-up in Seville where Manchester United held on for a dogged scoreless draw. Instead United’s manager had praise for the “fantastic” performance of Scott McTominay, who started in Pogba’s place, and called on Old Trafford to produce “a big Champions League night” in three weeks’ time.
“I think we finished the game with more space than we had in the beginning, more close to the possibility of scoring a goal,” Mourinho said, batting away the suggestion United might have been relieved to emerge with a clean sheet after David de Gea again produced a series of fine saves.
“The only moment we felt relieved was at the end of the first half, where by a couple of mistakes in possession they had a couple of good situations that gave this fantastic stadium the emotion they normally have for 90 minutes. Apart from that the game was even.
“Sometimes you have 15 shots but 13 of them are what I call statistic shots. So I feel the result reflects what the game was. Was it a good result? It’s not good, it’s not bad. Now we have one match to decide everything at Old Trafford. Old Trafford needs a big Champions League night and it’s going to get it.”
Mourinho had already told the TV cameras that the presence of Pogba on the bench for United’s most significant game of the season to date was due to the player not “feeling one hundred per cent”.
He also suggested once again it had been Pogba’s “own decision” not to play against Huddersfield at the weekend. After the game in Seville, the United manager suggested the focus from the media on Pogba’s absence was “a bit strange”.
“If I was one of you [the media] I would ask if the Manchester United manager agrees that Scott McTominay had a fantastic performance. My answer would be yes he looked a senior player with great maturity, tactical sense, good in possession, good in pressing.
“Paul made a big effort to try to give me what I asked. Paul replaced Ander [Herrera] and tried to give the game the same qualities. He lost a couple of possessions, but he gave us also stability. We had a good percentage of the ball and that means control of the game, and Paul had the responsibility for that.”
Herrera limped off after 17 minutes with what Mourinho described as “a bad injury”. – Guardian service