José Mourinho is said to be disappointed with Manchester United as he wanted the club’s hierarchy to back him swiftly in public over the Paul Pogba situation and make it clear that player power will not be countenanced. But the club has kept their silence and has let down the Portuguese coach, according to reports.
Moreover, Pogba’s indication after Tuesday’s 0-0 home draw with Valencia in the Champions League has left Mourinho under pressure. The coach said that he had been banned from talking to the media. He said to reporters: “I’ve been told I’m not allowed.”
The professional relationship between two outspoken figures at Old Trafford has been deteriorating for some time now. Both men have aired their grievances in public, with Pogba’s questioning of United’s tactics leading to him being stripped of a vice-captaincy role with the Red Devils.
Privately, Mourinho is still fuming that Pogba could produce a man-of-the-match performance at Bournemouth and in the Manchester derby and yet be so poor against the Premier League’s bottom club West Brom.
‘When you see a performance like that from him, you almost feel like he’s thought, “I don’t care what the manager thinks of my performance today, I’m not going to listen to him. I’m just going to go out and play my game”,’ said Scholes. ‘I think that’s disrespectful towards the manager and his team-mates.’
Asked if he thinks the former Juventus midfielder could leave this summer, Scholes replied: ‘I think he could. From the outside looking in, it looks like the relationship isn’t great.’
Scholes had witnessed Ferguson’s falling-out with Beckham and this is another clash of egos between two strong characters accustomed to getting their own way.
The relationship between the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson and star player David Beckham deteriorated in the years after the player married Spice Girl Victoria Adams. The United boss was concerned that Beckham had become distracted by his celebrity lifestyle and eventually was sold to Real Madrid in 2003.
In Pogba’s case, it is a stunt performed for being noticed — the bossy behaviour, crazy hairstyles, dance moves, elaborate handshakes and excessive social media presence. Pogba has become an isolated figure as senior players, tired of his antics, have distanced themselves from him.
Paul Pogba is United’s most recognizable player, and is hugely important to their global brand. It would be a major departure from their overall strategy if the club jettisoned their most prized asset for the sake of an increasingly divisive manager.
Also, rewarding Pogba’s outburst in this way would set a dangerous precedent, particularly at a time when player-power is more prevalent than ever. Pogba’s performances don’t merit special treatment. While he may have starred for France at the World Cup, Pogba has never quite hit those heights for United, where his displays have been marred by inconsistency.
Even if Mourinho is not in charge next season, allowing a player to so publicly undermine the manager as Pogba did over the weekend can’t be deemed to be acceptable. Incidents like these are unwanted distractions and add to the sense that Pogba may be more hassle than he is worth.
Undermining manager’s authority can’t be condoned. Pogba is replaceable, and the money United would bring in for Pogba would leave them in a strong position to find an adequate replacement, and/or strengthen in other areas. The way Liverpool spent the Philippe Coutinho money should be the main example to follow here.
Though unsettled midfielder Pogba has been accused by many like former Juventus managing director Luciano Moggi of thinking “more about arguing with Jose Mourinho than playing”, it is seen that the club hasn’t warned the 25-year-old for his off the field actions.
The last seven weeks have been one tedious saga after another, with the latest issues resulting in Mourinho telling Pogba he will never again captain United despite having recently served as vice-skipper, and on Wednesday there followed footage of a heated exchange on the training ground after the manager greeted his exuberant midfielder with a message which managed to immediately alter the player’s mood.
It should not be the Pogba war which brings about the end of Mourinho’s tenure, but it could end up helping to be a deciding factor nonetheless. Should January arrive with the manager encouraging the board to allow Pogba to leave in a bid to allow everyone to move on there are two scenarios which would potentially come into play.
If United are flying and back in with a shout of Champions League football and potentially even an outside interest in the title race, then Mourinho’s words will carry some gravity. In those circumstances, a petition to sell Pogba might be agreed upon by executive vice-chair Ed Woodward and the board.