Jose Mourinho has censured Paul Pogba in the wake of Manchester United’s debilitating draw at Southampton, accusing the France international of showing a lack of respect for his team-mates and the club’s supporters with the nature of his performance in Saturday’s Premier League fixture.
In a post-match dressing down delivered in front of the entire United team, Mourinho is understood to have called Pogba “a virus”.
According to a dressing-room source, Pogba was admonished with the words: “You don’t play. You don’t respect players and supporters. And you kill the mentality of the good honest people around you.”
Restored to an injury-stricken, United starting XI after being benched for the midweek Champions League defeat of Young Boys, Pogba produced an insipid performance replete with bad decision making and errors on and off the ball.
Statistically, the Frenchman was dispossessed eight times by opponents, lost 15 of 30 duels and completed less than 85 per cent of his passes, a poor return for such a technically gifted midfielder.
Badly in need of points to close the gap to the Champions League qualifying places, United conceded twice in the opening 20 minutes, and although able to level the scoreline before halftime left England’s south coast with a fourth Premier League draw of the campaign.
Asked in a post-match interview to explain his team’s failure to win, Mourinho avoided mentioning Pogba by name, but identified the midfield as a particular problem area.
“The second goal was a direct free-kick and the first goal was because we don’t press enough the ball when our block is low, which is something that we do wrong,”
Mourinho said “Doesn’t matter the system we play, has to do with the characteristics of the players. We don’t have many – with all the respect, hope people understand what I mean – we don’t have many ‘mad dogs’. The ones that bite the ball all the time and press all the time, we don’t have many people with that spirit so nothing to do with the system.