Shocked Paul Pogba to be recalled against Valencia
World Cup winner was left out of starting XI for past two games
Manchester United manager José Mourinho during a training session in Manchester before the Champions league match against Valencia. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images
The relationship between player and manager has been rocky since the start of the season. Yet despite Mourinho having terse words for Pogba privately and publicly, the France international did not expect to be left out of the XI.
He was reinstated for the 2-2 draw at Southampton in the following match, but was particularly disappointing. Mourinho afterwards indicated Pogba was one of his players who lacked a “mad dog” spirit and has not started him since.
Pogba made a 15-minute -appearance against Arsenal, but was left on the bench last Saturday against Fulham, the inexperienced Scott McTominay being preferred as a replacement midfielder.
Pogba has decided to keep his counsel and train as normal, but he may seek to speak to Mourinho if the manager continues to exclude him. The World Cup winner looks set to start Wednesday night’s Champions League game at Valencia, with multiple changes anticipated given that United have qualified for the knockout stage.
“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 on their legs,” Mourinho said.
“A team with some players that are not playing a lot, so I hope that people like Paul and a couple of others that are normally in the team and they have that number of miles that players need to be at that top level, I hope he can have a good impact on the team.”
Mourinho bristled when asked why he has not been able to get the best out of Pogba.
“I don’t think your question goes in the direction of what I want to answer or listen [to],” he said. “I don’t like your question. You can put the question from another direction, I don’t like the direction.”
There may also be a start for Eric Bailly after Mourinho spoke with the central defender on Monday to offer assurance he was content with him. Bailly’s start against Arsenal was a first appearance for two months, having fallen out of favour. Despite playing well the Ivorian was then left out against Fulham. Mourinho, though, informed Bailly this was merely to rest him, and that if he shows patience more regular football will come.
The Valencia manager, Marcelino, worked with Bailly at Villarreal, and he said: “I wish nothing but the best for him, and I feel his youth will help him through these hard times and he will be very important for United.”
Mourinho has said he was surprised but unconcerned by the statement his agent, Jorge Mendes, released on Friday.
Mendes said Mourinho was “fully committed to the club”, and that United were “very happy” with his client. “It’s Jorge’s statement – it’s not my statement,” Mourinho said. “I didn’t know at all and I didn’t care about it.” – Guardian