Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba says he is “always smiling” under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Pogba endured a difficult relationship with former boss Jose Mourinho, who left him on the bench for the defeat at Liverpool in December, in what turned out to be the Portuguese’s final match in charge.
The France international has been rejuvenated since Solskjaer, who coached Pogba at United’s academy, came in and gave him freedom to perform.
That has seen him score four goals and provide four assists, the latest of which was a fine ball for Marcus Rashford to bag the winning goal in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Tottenham.
Pogba believes he has “come out of the shadows” and is loving life under the Norwegian.
“Before the coach arrived I was in the shadows, on the bench, and I accepted that,” he said. “It is a pleasure to play again. That’s normal. Now I am always smiling.
“It’s a pleasure to be reunited with him. I knew him from the academy and the reserves, when his nickname was ‘Super Sub’.
“He is doing a really good job. As a player he knew the mentality of this club. He has come back to help us and it is going very well. The season is long so let’s see how it goes.
“I am playing a bit further forward. I have more security behind me, it gives me the freedom to go forwards to try to get into the box and support the strikers.”
Although Pogba played well and Rashford scored the winner, United’s three points at Wembley was down to the heroics of David De Gea.
De Gea pulled off a series of saves at Wembley to keep United’s lead intact and help deliver Solskjaer’s sixth consecutive win.
The Spaniard denied Harry Kane four times, Dele Alli on three occasions, Fernando Llorente and Toby Alderweireld to ensure Rashford’s first-half goal was enough for United.
Such performances have become the norm for De Gea in recent years and team-mate Jesse Lingard said it was just another day at the office for the Spain goalkeeper.
“It’s a normal day for him, he was excellent,” he said. “They looked like scoring but he’s saved us.
“We see that in training and it pays off when it comes to the big games. Some of his saves, you’re like, ‘Oh my god’.”
De Gea’s contract with United expires next summer but Press Association Sport understands talks on a new deal are ongoing and Lingard hopes the 28-year-old extends his stay at Old Trafford.
He added: “He’s one of the best keepers in the world, if not the best. We want him to stay. Having a keeper like that gives you extra confidence. He’s a great goalkeeper.”
The victory at Spurs sends Solskjaer into United history books as the only manager to win his first six games and now the top four does not look out of the equation as they are just six points behind Chelsea.
Lingard said it was important to keep the momentum going as United’s players continue to enjoy their time under the Norwegian.
“It’s a massive win,” he said. “It keeps the confidence going and we focus on the next game. It was always going to be a test. We knew that from the beginning.
“We put them on the back foot from the off and hopefully in the future we can start the second half like that as well.
“For us now we’ve got to keep looking forward. We’ve got another game against Brighton on Saturday and we need three points. We’ll see where we are at the end of the season.
“We’re very organised. We want to attack, we want to make those runs forward.
“The midfielders are running forward and we’re putting other teams under pressure. It’s working and we need to carry it on.”