Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was asked about press speculation regarding Paul Pogba during Friday’s press conference ahead of the Emirates FA Cup fifth-round clash at Huddersfield Town.
The Portuguese feels many lies have been reported about his star player’s situation and pointed out the midfielder will definitely play at the John Smith’s Stadium.
When asked about the speculation in the media, Jose replied: “I think you are nice with your words, because when you say ‘a lot of speculation’, you should say a lot of lies because I accept – and I can speak on Paul’s behalf without any problems – and Paul accepts that he’s not being playing well in the last few matches. But that’s all and if you want to speak about it, then that’s one thing and then your word ‘speculation’ makes a little bit of sense.
But the majority of the things that you can read and you can listen – don’t be nice, be objective and say lies.
“I don’t want to speak to you about my conversations with my players. I don’t have to tell you anything about it. It’s my problem, it’s the player’s problem.
It’s a big lie that our relationship is not good, a big lie that we don’t communicate, a big lie that we don’t agree with his positions and his involvement in the dynamic of the team.
So, be objective and say what we all know.
In the last couple of matches, he didn’t play well. Period. End of story. Now it’s my problem and Paul’s problem to deal with it and to try to improve his performance levels, so to go around it, you don’t need to be a liar.”
The manager does accept the injury Pogba sustained earlier in the season may be having an impact on his current form.
“Look – he had a big injury in the season,” added Mourinho. “A big injury. He had a big injury. He almost went to surgery like [Ousmane] Dembele at Barcelona had, with a very similar injury.
The decision was not to do it [surgery] and to go with conservative treatment which went very, very well. Everybody was happy with the way things went.
“He was playing phenomenal before that, he played phenomenal after that. He had a red card against Arsenal, probably in his best match of the season and in his and the team’s best moment.
He was out for a long, long time and, in this moment, he’s not playing well. Period.
“The team needs him at a good level and, when he’s not at a good level, the team is not as good as the team is when he plays phenomenal.
I think it happens with every team when the best players, the most crucial players, for some reason are not performing. Period.
“I don’t think you need to come with histories, I don’t think you need to come with ‘we are going to sell him’ or ‘we want to sell him’ or ‘he wants to leave’ or ‘we fight every day’ or ‘we don’t see each other’ – you don’t need that.
Some people go in that direction, some of them, I know them for many years, I know the profile, I know that their surname is ‘liar’.
There are people in your world [the media] that the surname is ‘liar’ and that’s not nice, but that’s enough about Paul. If you want to know about tomorrow, he plays.”
Mourinho also claimed that Pogba is playing in his favorite number 8 position in a 4-3-3 formation.
Using the game against Newcastle as an example, Mourinho added;
“We played with one number six and two number eights, or two eights and one 10, or two sixes and one 10,” added Jose.
“We played with one six and two eights. We played with [Nemanja] Matic as a six, [Jesse] Lingard on the right side of Matic and [Paul] Pogba on the left side.
“Do you know which is the Pogba preferred system? 4-3-3. Do you know which is Pogba’s favourite position in the 4-3-3? Eight on the left. So it’s easy and honest and objective to say Paul didn’t play well against Newcastle, but some of the guys [pundits] are paid millions – don’t let people read things that are not true. You are paid to read the game and to explain the game to people.”