Jose Mourinho has made note of Paul Pogba’s professional attitude after coming off the bench during Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Sevilla on Wednesday night.
The 55-year-old prompted uproar by leaving the Frenchman, taken off in away defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United, on the bench for the clash in Seville.
But he joined the action earlier than expected, coming on after 17 minutes to replace the injured Ander Herrera.
And Mourinho, when asked about Pogba, was quick to point out the way he professionally went about his business from the bench.
“You saw the game against Seville, it’s always more difficult to come from the bench than to start,” he said.
“A player when he is starting the game has a different kind of preparation for it, to be on the bench and to come on without warming up and getting to the pace of the game is not easy.
“I think he had a very positive game for us and some details are details and some players take five mins to be ready to play, they don’t have shinpads, strapping, the shirt, he took 10 seconds to be ready to come to the pitch, to show the professionalism and show he was ready to help the team.
“He responded very well in a professional way both times, he was on the bench against Huddersfield in the PL and he responded in a pro way and he was on the bench in Seville and did the same.”
Mourinho has drawn players like Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw into the public limelight before in an attempt to trigger reaction, but the fact that he appears to be doing this with Pogba – a truly indispensable asset – has come as a shock to supporters, a sign of unprecedented discord in the dressing room.
But the Portuguese has done this before. He knows what he is doing when he leaves Pogba out. He knows, above anything, that the midfielder will have to produce a reaction, to find something new.
And while this form of treatment can send some into panic mode, with inevitable reports of Pogba wanting to leave emerging from the gutters of journalism, we ought to remember that it has proven to be effective in the past and could be exactly what the 24-year-old needs.