Pogba's brother blames Mourinho for star's slump at United

Manchester United star Paul Pogba has scored four goals in four games since the sacking of former manager Jose Mourinho on Dec 18
Manchester United star Paul Pogba has scored four goals in four games since the sacking of former manager Jose Mourinho on Dec 18. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Paul Pogba's brother Mathias Pogba has hit out at Jose Mourinho over the Portuguese's treatment of the Manchester United midfielder.

The 28-year-old, who plays for Tours in France's third division, did not hold back in his criticism of the former United manager during an interview with RMC Sport.

Mourinho fell out with Pogba on a number of occasions during his 21/2-year spell in charge of United.

He questioned Pogba's work rate and attitude in public and also at one point chastised the Frenchman in front of cameras at the club's Carrington training ground.

"It was Mourinho who was the problem," said Mathias, who is three years older than his World Cup-winning brother.

"Mourinho still wants to be the centre of attention. The problem was Mourinho, right down the line. In the locker room, outside the locker room... Everything.

"He always wants to be the maestro, the centre of attention. Paul does not even calculate that aspect: you respect him, he will respect you, you trust him, he will produce big performances."

Mourinho left Pogba out of the United team for the final three matches of his tenure. The 55-year-old was sacked on Dec 18.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer then immediately recalled Pogba to the starting XI after being named caretaker manager for the rest of the season and the Frenchman has responded by scoring four goals in four games.

The former Juventus midfielder missed last Saturday's FA Cup third-round win over Reading because of a leg injury he suffered in the Premier League victory over Newcastle United.

He had to have treatment on the injury over the weekend, meaning he was unable to fly out with the rest of the squad to Dubai last Saturday for their warm-weather training camp.

He joined up with his teammates on Monday and took part in training on Tuesday, suggesting that he will be fit for Sunday's league game away to Tottenham Hotspur.

Chris Smalling is a doubt because of a foot injury and fellow defender Marcos Rojo has been sent back to England after experiencing yet more problems in his recovery from a knee injury.

Midfielder Fred has been given permission to miss the five-day camp because his partner is expecting a baby.

Solskjaer has encouraged his players to forge a competitive spirit in training and does not mind if tempers fray from time to time.

Referencing his own playing days, the Norwegian said: "We had one or two fights, but that is just the demand, the standards that you set.

"If the session ends with a little bit of a quarrel, I don't mind that because it means they are winners, they want to improve. If you settle for losing in training, you'll lose in a game when it really matters."

The 45-year-old is also unfazed by the prospect of facing Spurs, who beat United 3-0 in the reverse fixture in August.

"It'll be tough, but we can make it tough for them," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2019, with the headline 'Pogba's brother blames Mourinho for star's slump at United'. Print Edition | Subscribe