Mourinho: ‘Pogba never had a fight with me’

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Jose Mourinho has insisted there are no issues between him and Paul Pogba. Photo: Getty Images
Jose Mourinho has insisted there are no issues between him and Paul Pogba. Photo: Getty Images

Jose Mourinho has insisted he has never had a “fight” with Paul Pogba and suggested that it is up to the apparently unsettled Manchester United midfielder to explain what he meant when he said “there are things I cannot say otherwise I will get fined”.

In robustly defending his relationship with Pogba, who United steadfastly say will not be sold to Barcelona, Mourinho revealed that the only Old Trafford player who had been fined during his time at the club was Anthony Martial.

The forward is understood to have been docked two weeks’ wages, around £180,000, for going absent without permission after the birth of his baby son this summer.

Martial upset his manager by leaving the pre-season tour to the United States early to fly back to Paris and then not returning. The Frenchman, who wants to leave United because of his lack of first-team opportunities, is not believed to have trained during that time.

United do not want to sell Martial either but it is Pogba’s future that has been in the sharpest focus given his status at the club, where he is the record signing at £89 million, and as a World Cup winner with France.

His relationship with Mourinho had appeared strained for some time.

“He never had a fight with me. We never had a warm [heated], a hard, I don’t know how you say, exchange of words. Everything is respected. I have no problems at all,” Mourinho stated with photographs showing Pogba, and his team-mates, in high spirits at the club’s Carrington training ground ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League fixture away to Brighton, where they lost last season.

Pogba answered Mourinho’s call to return to first-team action, after just three days’ training, following his post-World Cup holiday, for last Friday’s league match at home to Leicester.

It was after that game, however, that the player hinted at his unhappiness and said he could not speak further for fear of being fined.

“You have to ask him. You have to ask him,” Mourinho said when asked what Pogba meant. “You know I’m here for two years and a couple of months and the only player that was fined was Anthony Martial, so is not easy to be fined here.


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“So you have to ask him. I didn’t ask him, I’m not going to ask him. I repeat, I want him to work the way he is doing and to play the way he is doing and, for me, that’s the only thing that matters.”

Asked about Pogba’s comments, when the player also referred to the need for “trust” and singled out the fans and team-mates – but not the manager – Mourinho said: “I don’t care. I don’t care. I repeat: I want him to play well, I want him to play for that team, I want him to play for the fans, and that is what he did.

“He’s working extremely well here but I have to say in his defence that write what you want about him, write what you want about me, please don’t say lies, please don’t put him in a situation where people can think that he’s not a polite, educated guy, which he is.”

In the absence of the injured Antonio Valencia who, like Nemanja Matic returned to full training on Thursday, but is not expected to be included in the squad to face Brighton, Pogba was awarded the captaincy.

The 25-year-old will retain it for tomorrow’s game, for which Jesse Lingard could still feature after recovering from a groin problem, and until Valencia returns.

“The truth is we are together for two years and a couple of weeks and I’ve never been so happy with him [Pogba] as I am now, that’s the truth,” Mourinho said. “I cannot demand more from him, I cannot ask more from him.

“He came here on a Monday [last week], trained three days, I asked for his support for his contribution in an important match for us when the team had difficulties, he did it, he did it better and for more time than we could expect.

“When he says he did it for the fans and for the team, it is exactly what I want, exactly what I demand from my players, he’s giving me, he’s working well, playing well, he does for the fans, he does for the team and that’s what I want, to play for the team, which he is doing and, I repeat, I couldn’t be happier than what I am.”

Mourinho is understood to have been surprised at Pogba’s recent comments especially as he believes he offered an “olive branch” by making him captain.

He was also angered by claims that he had a bust-up with the playmaker and had told him he could leave United if he wanted to.

Nevertheless, Mourinho is certainly aware of Pogba’s feelings, with sources close to the player, who was dropped last season at times, suggesting he was unhappy with some of the criticism levelled at him by the manager over the summer.

During the United States tour, Mourinho said Pogba’s form had improved during the World Cup finals in Russia because he was free of distractions and fully focused on football.

The Portuguese is also acutely aware of the machinations to try to manoeuvre a move to Barcelona, who are playing a longer game in trying to make the transfer happen eventually.

Mourinho also confirmed that Matteo Darmian would stay at United, with the club believing that the Italian can provide back-up for either full-back position.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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