Paul Pogba’s relationship with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United continues to be the subject of plenty of scrutiny in the media.
Since returning to Old Trafford from Juventus, Pogba’s form has been up and down – at times he has shown his tremendous ability, but he has also come in for some heavy criticism.
Reports of a falling out with Mourinho have put the duo under the spotlight, and we’ve looked back at how their relationship has developed over the past two years.
August 2016: Pogba joins United in a world-record £89million move, saying: “I am really looking forward to working with Jose Mourinho.”
Mourinho describes the midfielder as “one of the best players in the world” and says he “will be a key part of the United team I want to build here for the future”.
August 2016: After missing the first two games of the season due to suspension, Pogba impresses on his second debut for the club, recording more passes, touches, shots and winning more duels than any other United player in a 2-0 win against Southampton.
“The boy is fantastic,” says Mourinho, who also lauds “such an ego, such a personality”.
September 2016: The first signs of Pogba not fitting into Mourinho’s system emerge in United’s 2-1 home defeat to Manchester City.
Jamie Carragher says: “The performance of Paul Pogba: It was ill-disciplined. He was like a kid in the schoolyard, running where he wants and doing what he wants.”
October 2016: Following a 4-1 win over Fenerbahce in which Pogba scored twice, Mourinho slams the “Einsteins” in the media who have criticised the midfielder.
“First of all, in some of your mouths, he goes from the worst player in the Premier League to a great player in 48 hours… We know he is a very good player. We know he needs some time to show his potential.”
January 2017: Mourinho backs Pogba to eventually become United’s captain: “He has the charisma, the ambition, the mentality and he’s a good professional.”
February 2017: With Pogba’s performances continuing to attract criticism, Mourinho suggests the France international’s world-record transfer will be made to look “cheap”.
“I think he has phenomenal conditions, but I think the scrutiny on him is hard, is difficult,” he says. “But that’s the price of being who he is and is also the price of his price.”
March 2017: Pogba struggles in an FA Cup defeat at Chelsea, but Mourinho continues to back the player and accuses his critics of being jealous at how much he earns.
“It probably comes from envy, but for me Paul Pogba was by far the best player on the pitch. He was a giant on the pitch.”
June 2017: After United end the season having won the League Cup and Europa League, Pogba says Mourinho deserves his ‘Special One’ moniker and insists they have a good relationship.
“Personally, he welcomed me, we had a talk and I had a good feeling from the first moment on. He trusted and defended me. That’s all a player needs.”
September 2017: After a bright start to his second season, Pogba suffers a hamstring injury which leads to a prolonged period on the sidelines. According to The Sun, Mourinho is unhappy that the player flew to Miami to recover rather than stay in Manchester.
November 2017: Mourinho labels Pogba “different class” after the midfielder makes his return in a 4-1 defeat of Newcastle.
January/February 2018: Pogba is hauled off just over an hour into defeats at Tottenham – where he also has a heated debate with Mourinho on the touchline – and Newcastle. The games sandwich a win over Huddersfield in which he was dropped to the bench.
"Where's the Paul Pogba we saw at Juventus? The player they bought…" 👀
Paul Scholes calls out Man Utd's players following Man Utd 0-0 Southampton 🎙 pic.twitter.com/fzqrOm05VJ
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 30, 2017
February 2018: Mourinho praises the “professionalism” of the player after Pogba is left on the bench for the first leg of the Champions League clash with Sevilla, only to be called upon after Ander Herrera suffers an injury with only 17 minutes played.
“A player when he is starting the game has a different kind of preparation for it and it is easier. To be on the bench and to come on without warming up and get into the pace is not easy. I think he had a very positive game for us.”
March 2018: Pogba and Jose Mourinho are ‘barely on speaking terms’, according to The Sun, and are instead communicating through assistant manager Rui Faria, amid reports he could be sold in the summer.
August 2018: Reports from The Times at the start of the month suggest Pogba is angry with Mourinho’s comments about the player’s performances during France’s World Cup triumph. Mourinho claimed the short nature of the tournament ensured Pogba could not get distracted by external matters.
Despite returning back for pre-season late due to the World Cup, Pogba starts and captains United in their opening match of the season against Leicester City, opening the scoring and winning man of the match in a 2-1 victory. Afterwards, the midfielder insists he will always give his best for those that “trust” him.
Those comments spark a host of reports suggesting Pogba wants to move to Barcelona, while The Sun go as far as stating his relationship with Mourinho has hit a “new low”.
United contract Sky Sports reporter James Cooper to rubbish The Sun’s story. They are “angry” and “incensed” with the report, which they describe as “absolute nonsense”.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Mourinho says: “I have never been so happy with [Pogba] as I am now.” He adds: “I couldn’t be happier and I have to say – I am not saying for me, I am saying for him – that it is totally untrue that we had a problem during the week.”