No player 'bigger than the club'

Paul Pogba is set to return to the Manchester United line-up after he was rested for the midweek League Cup defeat by Derby. Manager Jose Mourinho said he was pleased with the Frenchman's effort in training this week.
Paul Pogba is set to return to the Manchester United line-up after he was rested for the midweek League Cup defeat by Derby. Manager Jose Mourinho said he was pleased with the Frenchman's effort in training this week.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Mourinho pleased with Pogba's attitude in training but won't be held to ransom

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Paul Pogba will start in their English Premier League match at West Ham today, but the Manchester United manager also warned that "no player is bigger than the club".

He was speaking for the first time since a video emerged on Wednesday of what appeared to be a training ground dispute, in which player and manager appeared to have a tense exchange of words.

It came a day after Mourinho stripped Pogba of the club vice-captaincy just before the League Cup third-round defeat by Derby.

Mourinho was also reportedly unhappy about an Instagram video in which Pogba appeared laughing while watching Tuesday's match at Old Trafford.

However, the club later clarified that it had been uploaded during the match, when the home side had been leading.

The French midfielder commented after last week's league draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers that United should be attacking more at home - an implicit criticism of his Portuguese manager's perceived negative tactics.

"Paul is a player like the others, no player is bigger than the club and, if I'm happy with his work, he plays," Mourinho said at his pre-match conference yesterday.

"If I'm not happy, he doesn't play, I'm happy with his work this week, really happy on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He trained really well, the team needs good players, players with personality to play. He has and he plays tomorrow.

"But Manchester United is bigger than anyone."

When asked about the training ground spat, Mourinho said: "The training session was open, you had some cameras with some potential to get some of the words, but I'm not going to comment, it was a conversation. What confrontation?"

But the 55-year-old did explain his decision not to hand Pogba the captain's armband.

"I explain very detailed to the people who have to know in detail, which is the squad and especially Paul, so they know in detail the reason why myself and my coaching staff decide to do that," he said.

"I always analyse a player when a player is captain. And, after weeks of analysing and changing opinions with my coaching staff, we made the decision Paul is just a player and not a captain.

"Decision made, so end of the story."

Meanwhile, Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, is set to meet United officials in November to discuss the midfielder's future, according to The Guardian. Raiola reportedly wants a meeting to establish if the club would be willing to let his client go in January or the summer transfer window, with Barcelona a likely destination.

United, already eight points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, will desperately need three points today.

"We want to finish September with a good match, a good performance, a good result," said Mourinho.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

WEST HAM V MAN UNITED

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'No player 'bigger than the club''. Print Edition | Subscribe