Jose Mourinho warns Man United fans not to expect a 'super performance' from Paul Pogba against Southampton
Confirming previous comments from the player himself, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has said world record signing Paul Pogba is fit and ready to play a part in Friday’s Premier League clash against Southampton at Old Trafford, but was quick to dispel the notion that the Frenchman will have an immediate impact.
It’s been exactly 10 days since it was officially announced that Pogba, four years after leaving the club, was once again a Manchester United player.
It brought an end to one of the longest – and most exhausting - transfer sagas in recent memory. United shelled out an unprecedented €110m to Juventus for a 23-year-old they had allowed leave for Turn for €850k.
A suspension from the end of his time in Italy meant that Pogba was unavailable for last Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium but, having banked sufficient hours at the Carrington training facility, the four-time Serie A winner is primed for a second Manchester United debut.
Speaking of his fourth summer acquisition, Mourinho said that Pogba will feature tomorrow night.
"We played against Leicester with players with less training than him and we saw that match as a way to improve them. With Paul it’s a bit the same – not one single minute of any pre-season match but almost two weeks of work with us, sometimes with the group, sometimes separately, and the condition is okay to play some minutes."
However, the former Chelsea boss tempered the news by stating that expectations of Pogba playing the full game or, indeed, controlling it in a manner befitting of his price tag, should be eminently contained.
"Paul has been training for more than a week, around 10, 11 days, adaptation is really easy because he is a boy from here, he knows the club, he knows everybody. There's no need for time to adapt.
"He needs time to build his condition and his understanding in the way the team tries to play. Yes, he's ready to play. Ninety minutes? I don't believe. Super performance? I don't believe. But in condition to accelerate his process of integration in the team, that's for sure."
Despite his acrimonious departure during Alex Ferguson’s era, which was facilitated by wily agent Mino Raiola, Pogba has claimed that his time with the club was often happy and that he was delighted to return to familiar surroundings.
Mourinho said his prized asset is assimilating favourably.
"He has adapted really easily because he knows the club, knows everybody. He has no need to have time to adapt, but he'll need time to build his condition and his understanding of how the team plays and how he'll fit in with that."
On a different note, it was put to Mourinho if he could restore Old Trafford to the fortress of old, considering teams have become increasingly less overawed by travelling there in the post Ferguson era. He responded with some uncharacteristic deflection.
"If at Old Trafford, a couple of thousand away opponents can be more noisy than 70-something thousand then we are in trouble. It means that there is no connection between the team and the supporters.
"If there is connection, I think that factor of being really strong at home has to be back. Everything starts on that relationship between the team and the fans.
"If the fans feel that connection, they want also to play, and if the fans play then there's no chance for the opponent."
Additional reporting from PA