Jose Mourinho came out in defence of Paul Pogba when asked whether he agreed with Paul Scholes’ claim that the Frenchman’s performance against West Bromwich Albion was “disrespectful”.
The 25-year-old was hooked off by Mourinho during the 1-0 defeat to West Brom and was criticised by his boss after the game for overcomplicating things on the ball – “always one more touch”, the 55-year-old seethed afterwards.
And Scholes, speaking on BT Sport ahead of Man United’s 2-0 win over AFC Bournemouth, went even further, branding the tempo and execution of Pogba’s display as disrespectful to his manager.
“He went from that sensational performance (against Manchester City) to this on Sunday,” he said.
“I thought it was a bit disrespectful towards his manager the way he played (against West Brom). I think he’s gone out wanting to create the Paul Pogba show.”
But Mourinho, when told about these remarks after the game, paused briefly, as if taken aback by the severity of the claim, before insisting that, while Pogba was poor on Sunday, he was no more than that.
“I don’t agree,” he said. “I agree that it wasn’t a good performance at all (against West Brom); with that I agree.”
The often lackadaisical nature of Pogba’s performance can indeed stem from his own making. There are indeed times when he looks like a Rolls Royce in second gear, as if uninterested in truly stretching his legs and marauding up the pitch in that unique way of his.
But to single him out for having a poor tempo and attitude, in a game where nobody was offering any attacking zeal or movement in behind, is nothing more than a typical hatchet job on his character, on his very way of being.
That is why Mourinho disagreed with Scholes’ comment. Suggesting defeat to West Brom stemmed from Pogba’s attitude is all you need to know about the agenda against him. United lost because they weren’t at it on a collective level. Mourinho and his players know that. And they – headed by the Frenchman – responded perfectly on Wednesday.