Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has reopened his rift with Jose Mourinho, laying into his former manager by claiming he “goes against” players and treats them “like they don’t exist anymore.”
French star Pogba endured a tetchy relationship with Mourinho towards the end of the Portuguese manager’s reign at United, with their tensions widely cited as among the reasons why the coach was handed his marching orders in December of 2018.
The deterioration came after Mourinho had made Pogba his vice-captain, only to strip him of the role in a very public bust-up between the pair.
Things had started well enough when Pogba rejoined United for a then world-record fee in the summer of 2016, with Mourinho having joined three months previously.
United won the League Cup and Europa League title in 2017 and managed a second-place Premier League finish in 2018.
However, things then deteriorated rapidly in Mourinho’s third season in charge as he was shown the door, being replaced by current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Pogba has compared management styles between the two bosses – and the Portuguese does not come out favorably in the eyes of the World Cup winner.
“What I have now with Ole is different, he wouldn’t go against the players,” Pogba in a snippet of an interview which will later be aired in full.
“[Solskjaer] wouldn’t go against the players. Maybe Ole wouldn’t pick them, but it’s not like he puts them on the side like they don’t exist anymore. That’s the difference between Mourinho and Ole.”
Pogba, 28, has stood accused of failing to live up to expectations for much of his second coming at United, but claimed that under Mourinho players were left trying to second-guess what kind of mood the manager would be in.
“Once I had a great relationship with Mourinho, everybody saw that, and the next day you don’t know what happened,” said the Frenchman.
“That’s the strange thing I had with Mourinho and I cannot explain to you because even I don’t know.
“Maybe [Solskjaer’s methods work] because he is a bit closer to the people. Every coach has their own way to coach and deal with players, and as a player you have to adapt. Sometimes it doesn’t suit you and sometimes it does.”
Pogba also pointed to the revival of United left-back Luke Shaw, a player publicly maligned by Mourinho as he struggled for form, but who has been resurgent this season under Solskjaer’s softer touch.
“Ole has helped Luke a lot, it was a difficult season with Luke and Mourinho, and he has proved he has the quality he always had and the trust of the manager,” said Pogba.
Pogba, Shaw and Mourinho came face to face in a frosty exchange after United beat Tottenham in the Premier League last weekend. That was a game marred by claims of diving against Spurs star Son Heung-min and a bizarre post-match spat between Mourinho and Solskjaer, in which the latter accused the former of being “a bad father” for claiming he would not feed the South Korean star if he were his son.
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Pogba claimed Mourinho’s comments were a classic diversion tactic to shift attention away from another dismal defeat for a struggling Spurs team.
“I don’t know what happened, I’m sure Mourinho said something that would make people speak, that’s what he does,” said Pogba.
“We got the result we wanted, Ole knows it and we enjoyed that moment because we know Mourinho and we know what he likes. We don’t need this [war of words], we just focus on us.
“We won the game, he lost the game and he doesn’t want to speak about the game, he wants to speak about the dad of someone, that’s what he does. Everybody knows him, it’s very Mourinho.”
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United have enjoyed steady progress under Solskjaer this season, and booked their spot in the Europa League semi-finals by wrapping up a routine 4-0 aggregate victory against Granada on Thursday night – a game for which Pogba was named captain.
Next up is a trip to Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday as United look to strengthen their hold on second spot in the table.
In contrast, Spurs are labouring down in seventh spot, six points adrift of the Champions League places as they face a tricky trip to Everton on Friday night.
Mourinho’s men do have a League Cup final against Manchester City to look forward to at the end of April as they bid to salvage some silverware from a disappointing campaign.
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