I want Cup intensity from Pogba: Jose

Paul Pogba celebrating after France's win in the World Cup final. United boss Jose Mourinho wants him to continue that form for his club.
Paul Pogba celebrating after France's win in the World Cup final. United boss Jose Mourinho wants him to continue that form for his club.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Jose Mourinho believes Paul Pogba should treat each match for Manchester United with the same intensity as those he played for France at the World Cup, with the manager suggesting the midfielder can lose focus for his club.

Pogba was among the outstanding performers in Russia, crowning his tournament with a goal in France's 4-2 win over Croatia in the final. Yet the 25-year-old struggled for consistency in United colours last season.

"I don't think it's about us getting the best out of him," Mourinho told ESPN. "It's about him giving the best he has to give. I think the World Cup is the perfect habitat for a player like him to give the best.

"Why? Because it's closed for a month, where he can only think about football. Where he's completely isolated from the external world, where they focus just on football.

"During a season, you can have a big match, then a smaller match, then one even smaller, then you can lose your focus, you can lose your concentration, then comes a big match again.

"So I think it was the perfect environment for him at the World Cup."

While Mourinho will hope that Pogba can be focused and replicate his World Cup form for United, the Portuguese manager is happy for another Frenchman to leave Old Trafford if he wants to.

But the 55-year-old will block Chelsea's attempt to sign forward Anthony Martial by insisting that he be sold to a foreign club.

The news comes just days after it was reported that United will try to block any potential moves.

Martial's second sub-par performance of the team's pre-season tour of the United States, when they drew 0-0 with the San Jose Earthquakes, has convinced Mourinho that the 22-year-old does not have what it takes to become a consistent performer for the club.

When asked after the drab stalemate whether he would be staying at United, Martial laughed and walked away. It is understood he wants to leave but while Chelsea are reportedly interested in signing him, Mourinho does not want to sell to a direct Premier League rival.

It is likely that United would want at least £60 million (S$107.4 million) for him, particularly because it was only a couple of years ago that he was rated one of the best youngsters in Europe.

Bayern Munich seem to be the most likely destination for Martial.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2018, with the headline 'I want Cup intensity from Pogba: Jose'. Print Edition | Subscribe