Juan Mata has admitted that it hasn’t been easy for Paul Pogba to deal with the enormous pressure surrounding his price-tag at Manchester United this season.
The Frenchman arrived at Old Trafford over the summer for a world record £89m fee and immediately came under the scrutiny of the watching world following a number of mixed displays in midfield.
However, ever since Mourinho’s decision to deploy Pogba alongside Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick, the Frenchman has dramatically grown in stature at Man United, producing a series of powerful, complete performances.
But Mata, speaking to the BBC, noted that it hasn’t always been easy for the 23-year-old.
“I imagine it is not easy,” he said.
“When the big transfer comes and the expectations are high, sometimes people lose perception of reality. It’s not a case of, they paid that money for you and you have to score every single game.
“We are not machines. Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only two [that can score every game]. There is no more. We are humans. Train the best you can. Play the best you can. Train to be a good professional and then the rest will come.”
There have been moments this season where Pogba, clearly mindful of his status as the world’s most expensive player, has entered a grim spiral of trying to produce big moments at times of crisis, only to dig himself – and indeed those around him – further into the hole. This was apparent during defeat to the likes of Manchester City, Watford and Feyenoord, but such a habit has – aside from that game against Liverpool – been essentially eradicated in recent weeks.
The Frenchman had to adapt quickly at Old Trafford: no pre-season, no real experience in the Premier League, playing under a new manager still trying to implement his own vision. And following a sticky opening period, the 23-year-old has now settled into his usual persona of raw confidence and power going forward, improving as the weeks go by.