Jose Mourinho says he has “never been so happy” with Paul Pogba and the midfielder will stay as captain against Brighton and Hove Albion, despite his comments suggesting he is unsettled at Manchester United.
Pogba caused a stir following his man-of-the-match performance in last Friday’s win over Leicester City, when he said he would always strive to perform for fans and team-mates but also claimed: “There are things I can say and there are things I cannot say… otherwise I will get fined.”
The comments appeared to suggest disharmony at United, with the player and Mourinho reported to have a difficult relationship stemming from last season, when Pogba was dropped for key games against Liverpool and Sevilla.
Mourinho, though, insists he is delighted with the France star’s efforts in training and has again hit out at reports he has ever argued with the former Juventus man.
“The truth is we are together for two years and a couple of weeks and I’ve never been so happy with him as I am now. That’s the truth,” he said ahead of the clash with Brighton.
“I cannot demand more from him, I cannot ask more from him. He comes here on Monday [before the Leicester game], he trains for three days, I asked for his support, for his contribution in an important match for us when the team had difficulties, and he did it did better and for more time than we could expect.
“When he says he did it for the fans and for the team, it’s exactly what I want, exactly what I demand from my players. He is working well, playing well, he does [it] for the fans, for the team, and that’s what I want. I repeat, I couldn’t be happier than I am.”
Asked what he thought about Pogba’s remarks after the 2-1 win over Leicester, Mourinho replied: “I don’t care. I want him to play well, to play for the team, for the fans and that’s what he did. He is working extremely well.
“I have to say, in his defence, write what you want about him, about me, [but] please don’t say lies, please don’t put him in a situation where people can think he is not a polite, educated guy, which he is.
“He is very polite, very educated, never had a fight with me. We never had a hard exchange of words. I have no problems at all.”
Pressed further on what Pogba meant when he suggested he could be fined, Mourinho said the only player to receive such punishment in his time at Old Trafford is Anthony Martial, who is said to have angered his manager when he failed to return promptly to this year’s pre-season tour of the United States following the birth of his second child.