Jose Mourinho has insisted that Paul Pogba wasn’t carrying an injury during Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United on Sunday.
The Frenchman appeared to wince in pain after taking a shot in the warm-up at St James’ Park and, having spoken to Rui Faria, went back down the tunnel.
Pogba played nonetheless but he clearly didn’t look anywhere his best, ambling through the game and hardly ever producing a decisive touch, and was hooked off for Michael Carrick soon after his failure to compete at a set-piece allowed Newcastle to score.
But Mourinho, when asked about whether Pogba was carrying an injury, paused for a second – clearly thinking hard about what to say next – before replying: “No, no problems.”
Mourinho’s laconic response, along with the pause that preceded it, tells you that something is awry.
But that much was painfully clear on the pitch anyway. Pogba begun the game clearly limping and, aside from a few nice touches in the first half, descended quickly into anonymity – unable, or perhaps unwilling, to win 50/50s, leaving Nemanja Matic with a thankless and overwhelming task.
One obvious rule of thumb at the highest level is that anybody not at 100 per cent shouldn’t be on the pitch – especially against a Newcastle side described as ‘animals’ by Mourinho in the aftermath. And Pogba, needless to say, was nowhere near that.