Sport Soccer

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Pogba picked for West Ham trip as Mourinho describes relationship as ‘good’

The Manchester United pair were engaged in a heated exchange in training on Wednesday.

File photo dated 31-01-2018 of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (left) and Paul Pogba
File photo dated 31-01-2018 of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (left) and Paul Pogba

By Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer

Jose Mourinho confirmed Paul Pogba would play for Manchester United at West Ham on Saturday but warned “no player is bigger than the club”.

The 25-year-old Frenchman’s Old Trafford future has been the subject of yet more speculation this week.

Mourinho told Pogba he would not captain United again in the build-up to Tuesday’s Carabao Cup defeat to Derby and the following morning remarkable footage emerged of a heated training-ground conversation between the pair.

The Portuguese would not explain what was said in the exchange that made ripples around the footballing world, but confirmed that the World Cup winner would start at the London Stadium.

“I explained to the people that needed to know in detail, which is the squad and especially Paul,” Mourinho said of the decision.

“So, Paul and the other players in the squad, they know in detail the reason why myself and my coaching staff decided to do that.

“I always analyse a player as a player. When a player is captain, I analyse the player by the player perspective but also by the captain perspective.

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Jose Mourinho says Paul Pogba, pictured, has been given an explanation for why he will no longer captain the team (Nick Potts/PA)

“And after weeks of analysing and changing opinions with my coaching staff, we made the decision that from now Paul is just a player and not a captain.

“So, decision made, I informed obviously the player and the players, and then when I was asked I think before the match on Tuesday, I confirmed it (publicly), and now end of the story.

“And I can anticipate more questions by saying that the relation of player (and) manager is good. It’s not any more a relation (of) captain or one of the captains and manager. It’s just a relation, player-manager, it’s good.

“Nobody trained better than Paul on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Nobody trained better than him. Some trained as well as him but not better than him, and tomorrow he plays, so end of the story.”

Pogba – who had skipper the side three times this term – was part of the squad that arrived at Stockport train station to travel down to London on Friday afternoon, although the likes of captain Antonio Valencia, Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones were not spotted.

Asked if he had thought about not playing the midfielder on Saturday, Mourinho said: “No, he’s a player like the others.

“No player is bigger than the club and if I’m happy with his work, he plays. If I’m not happy, he doesn’t play.”

Mourinho was animated when talking about Pogba and seemingly taken aback by a question regarding this week’s events potentially impacting United’s reputation.

“Manchester United is bigger than anyone and I have to defend that,” he replied.

Mourinho was dismissive when it was put to him that he did not need to speak with Pogba in front of the cameras – “I don’t care about the cameras” – just as he was when asked if it had been disruptive for Saturday’s game.

“Disruptive? I think for you it was amazing because you made a story, you made an incredible story, out of 15 minutes of (an) open training session,” the United boss said.

“Maybe it’s your fault (points to the press officer, who says it was to do Premier League regulations). We shouldn’t have 15 minutes of a training session open because what happened the other day happens many days.

“Conversations with players I have many, many, many times. It was not the case but loud criticism, loud instruction happens every day.”

“Coaching is about that but you make stories out of it, so I’m happy that the rules are only 15 minutes once a month and with situations like that it is not going to change.

“There is no chance I am going to open the training session and let you watch a training session. No chance.”

Mourinho said the media would see “much louder, much more aggressive” moments with a “completely different dimension” if they were allowed into training more often.

Still, the Portuguese joked that one open session has provided stories for two months on his way out of a press conference that saw the subject of United’s vice-captaincy brought up.

“Paul was not the vice-captain,” Mourinho said, emphasising ‘the’ in his response. “We had Valencia as the captain and then we had the group of players that could be the vice-captain.

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David De Gea is a contender to captain United (Martin Rickett/PA)

“One day I give to David De Gea, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling.

“I thought about Paul already last season because a player of a different generation, younger player and the captain of the future because Valencia, Young, they come more or less same age, same generation.

“But he was not the vice-captain, so now we don’t have the vice-captain. It depends on the match, it depends on if Valencia is playing. If Valencia is playing, he’s the captain. If Valencia is not playing, I will try to go in another direction.”

Press Association

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