Pogba keeps his own counsel as he returns to United duties
Issues with Mourinho put aside as midfielder dons captain’s armband for win over Leicester
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba during Friday’s match against Leicester at Old Trafford. The midfielder returned to training last week after helping France win the World Cup. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP
Paul Pogba has suggested that it is hard to play well if there are off-field issues and said he would get fined if he opened up about his unhappiness at Manchester United.
Two years after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus in a world-record deal, the 25-year-old is reported to be so unhappy that he has informed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward of his desire to leave.
United have denied that happened, while it was also reported that Mino Raiola, the player’s agent, had struck a deal with Barcelona.
A tense relationship with José Mourinho appears to be at the heart of it. Questions about their relationship were raised last season, and the midfielder is said to have been annoyed by his manager’s comments after the World Cup.
Pogba only returned to training at the start of the week after helping France to win the tournament, but he was thrust into the starting line-up on Friday and given the captain’s armband, with his penalty setting United on course for a 2-1 win against Leicester.
It was an impressive display that led to a standing ovation and hope that the Old Trafford crowd would now see the best from a supremely talented midfielder.
There are things that I cannot say, otherwise I will get fined
“What do you mean, being the real Pogba?” he asked. “You have to know one thing: a player that gets chosen and is happy, you always feel more comfortable than when he’s not happy. That’s all I say.”
Pogba was pushed on his response and said that “if you’re not happy, you cannot give your best” when asked about what represents happiness and comfort for him. “There are things that I cannot say, otherwise I will get fined,” Pogba said.
The Frenchman was made captain for the Leicester match, with former captain Michael Carrick and coach Kieran McKenna the ones to tell Pogba of the decision.
“Having the armband, it’s not like ‘oh, I will show that I am a real captain and have to do extra work’. No, I just have to be myself and do what I know, do what I can do and do what I know to do.
“I always love the club,” he continued. “I love the club. I came in the academy, I grew up. I came from the academy, I played for the first team. For me, it was a dream come true. And wearing this, it’s even more because of the past, because of the players that played here, the people that have been wearing this.”