With Matic in midfield, Pogba wants more goals

LONDON • Paul Pogba hopes that the arrival of Nemanja Matic will help him score more goals for Manchester United this season.

Jose Mourinho, the manager of the English Premier League football club, complained that his midfielders failed to chip in with enough goals last season and Pogba was one of the guilty parties.

The 24-year-old, who signed from Juventus for £89 million (S$156.7 million) last summer, scored only five times in the league but hit the woodwork nine times in all competitions.

But with Matic, the £40 million signing from Chelsea, anchoring the midfield against West Ham on Sunday, Pogba was able to get forward more and he scored the goal he deserved in the dying stages of the 4-0 Premier League win.

"Against West Ham, Matic was starting behind and I could worry more about attacking," Pogba said. "I feel good playing that way, but it depends on what the manager wants. I hope to get more goals this season and I hope I won't hit the post so much."

Another factor that may liberate him is the knowledge that he is no longer the world's most expensive player after Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona for €222 million (S$355.3 million).

Mourinho claimed earlier this summer that Pogba would not feel as much pressure this season if the record was broken, and the player himself agrees.

"Last season, the first question from everyone was about the price tag," he said. "Now everyone is asking about the football. That tells you everything."

Winning the Premier League is at the top of Pogba's targets and he is optimistic about United's chances after an almost unblemished pre-season campaign and the arrival of his friend Romelu Lukaku, as well as Matic and the defender Victor Lindelof, who signed from Benfica for £31 million in June.

"When you know the team more you know how to play alongside them," he said. "You get on better. You just get a different feeling. You could see against West Ham everybody was getting along well and playing for each other.

"I came here to win the Premier League. It was an excellent start to the season, but what matters is what happens at the end of the season."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'With Matic in midfield, Pogba wants more goals'. Print Edition | Subscribe