Thursday 22 August 2019

John Giles: How has Paul Pogba avoided Jose Mourinho's public player shaming?

Manchester United's Paul Pogba
Manchester United's Paul Pogba

John Giles

NOT long after Jose Mourinho shocked everyone involved in football with his disgraceful verbal attack on Dr Eva Carneiro, the word which I felt best described his state of mind was “tormented”.

I wondered then and I wonder now whether his ability to manage at the highest level was so badly damaged by events at Stamford Bridge, that he would be virtually unemployable.

I was wrong about that and should have known better. There is always a club for a proven winner and in this case, a great club, Manchester United, was in dire straits and needed what Mourinho has been able to deliver on demand.

Despite Mourinho’s excesses, present from the very start in his career, there was one very important indicator which played a big role in his success.

During Mourinho’s hugely successful run from Porto to Inter Milan, it always struck me about him that no player who worked with him ever went into the media to have a moan. Real Madrid may have been a turning point in that regard but there isn’t a manager alive, good or bad, who wouldn’t struggle with the internal politics at the Bernabeu.

But something changed when he returned to Chelsea three years ago and after winning the title almost easily, it was the fact that many of his big names downed tools that finally forced Roman Abramovich to act.

The players stopped playing and Mourinho’s public pronouncements on them had become so damaging that he had to go.

Mourinho’s latest outbreak of public player shaming seems to be heading in the same direction.

I can’t argue against the idea that he inherited a mixed up mess at Old Trafford but emerging statistics about his record against that of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal makes for stark reading.

He has less points and has spent an enormous amount of money.

Worryingly for Manchester United fans, he has singled out four young lads and given them a torrid time, particularly Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford.

Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard have also been publicly criticised but not one bad word from Mourinho about Paul Pogba.

A few weeks back, I read reports that Mourinho is worried about Rashford’s lifestyle and feels that he is distracted by the money he has been spending on his family.

Yet he defended the ridiculous circus around Pogba’s family before, during and after the Europa League clash with St Etienne.

Mourinho is simply deflecting blame from himself onto young lads and he can’t include Pogba because he is his marquee signing.

The bald truth is that Mourinho has done a poor job with Manchester United and is quite happy to humiliate Shaw to try to avoid responsibility for the fact that his team has become detached from the top four.

I’m amazed by it, I have to say. No matter how low Mourinho has stooped in the last few years, I always thought that he would understand that if trust is broken with players, it is impossible to rebuild it. He knows this and yet still can’t help himself.

Every throwaway remarks about Shaw might make a snappy headline but it is leaving a deposit in the minds of the other players. They are thinking ‘what if I’m next?’

That kind of thing is never, ever good in a dressing room. It’s a short-term response to bad results and only makes things worse in the long-run.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Mourinho explains away a sixth place finish, if that is what unfolds.

He could still find a way into next season’s Champions League draw via the Europa League if United win it but anything less than qualification will amount to a failure.

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