Jose Mourinho has explained what he told Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at half-time during Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup fifth round.
The pair started the game from the bench and watched on as Marcus Rashford draw Man United level after 27 minutes in response to Danny Graham’s opener.
They were then introduced with 28 minutes left and duly combined to grab the winner, with Pogba launching an inch-perfect pass to the 35-year-old, who calmly slotted home in front of United’s travelling support to send Mourinho’s men i to the quarter final.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, revealed that he asked Zlatan and Pogba to bring the right mentality when they came on.
“I’m really happy with my players, of course,'” he said.
“When I have important players on the bench I can try to make an impact. It depends also on their mentality.
“I spoke with Paul and Zlatan at half-time and in the moment of need they were more than ready to come with the right attitude for the team.
“I’m happy with the victory. I think we deserve to win but Blackburn probably also deserve to go for Old Trafford.”
The sight of Zlatan and Pogba limbering up on the sidelines would have been a pretty overwhelming sight for a group of supporters whose last Ewood Park outing came against QPR.
Their introduction precipitated an immediate change in atmosphere; suddenly everything felt more fraught, almost as if both sets of supporters could tell that something big – a game-changing moment, perhaps – was about to occur.
13 minutes later and such premonitions were emphatically confirmed. It was, in many ways, a moment that captured the stark difference of quality on paper between these two sides.