28th September, 2018.
Manchester United is seriously presently divided along the line of players backing Jose Mourinho and those standing behind Paul Pogba in their clash of personalities which has been on-going for sometime now.
The two seem to be falling out on a regular basis since Pogba returned to United from Juventus in an £89million deal in 2016 and this situation is threatening to ruin Manchester United’s season.
The whole matter seemed to spin out of control this week as Pogba openly criticised Mourinho’s tactics and consequently got stripped of the vice captain’s role and lambasted in training in full view of his team-mates and the TV cameras.
The issue naturally has divided the team along two opposing sides.
Players such as Anthony Martial has taken Pogba’s side and he is reported to be an obvious ally in a group of unhappy French-speaking players. Then of course, there is Eric Bailly, who has recently fallen down the Old Trafford pecking order, disillusioned with life at the club and is not hiding the fact that he wants to quit the team.
To worsen matters for Jose Mourinho, Andreas Pereira, the 22-year-old Belgian midfielder, appeared alongside Pogba in an Instagram video this week and that has naturally upset the manager.
Reports have it that the two were laughing and joking while their team-mates crashed out the Carabao Cup to Burnley.
To worsen issues, the young player is said to have followed Pogba’s lead by turning up at the training grounds in his flashy white Bentley in emulation of Pogba who has a black Rolls Royce, driven by a chauffeur.
It is believed that Luke Shaw is also somewhat close to that group as he, along with Marcus Rashford, is unhappy at a lack of game-time.
It was reported that Jose Mourinho was left annoyed at the playing of loud music on the team bus before the draw with Wolves on Saturday. That was led by Pogba but new signing Fred was also a part of that event.
As is usual in these types of situation, not all the players are on the side of Pogba. Some players like Ashley Young and Nemanja Matic have kept their distance from that group while it was also reoprted that Pogba is now not as close as he was to Romelu Lukaku before the whole saga started.
Lukaku surely does not want to be seen to be backing Pogba against Mourinho and has stepped back from the situation.
Manchester United legend Paul Ince has accused Pogba of thinking he’s bigger than the club and thinks Mourinho is too soft to handle the issue and has gone on to urge executive vice chairman Ed Woodward to sell the World Cup winner in the next transfer window. The following is what he had to say further on the issue:
“The latest episode between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba, where they were caught rowing on the cameras at training, shows a complete lack of professionalism from both of them.
“The whole thing between those two is just ludicrous now. If anybody had any doubts before about how those two feel about each other – it’s been proven for everyone to see. They very clearly don’t get on.
“Not every player is going to like their manager all the time. It’s not about the dislike for each other, it’s about the fact you’re playing for a team and you should want to put that aside and win games.
“I said weeks ago that someone needed to put this situation to bed. No one is bigger than Manchester United, yet somehow Pogba thinks he is.
“There’s been an issue between them for a long time, and it’s been allowed to spiral out of control and get into the mess it’s in now.
“There’s absolutely no chance this would have happened under Ferguson. He’d have had the situation dealt with weeks, even months ago. There’s no way that Manchester United can compete with Liverpool or Manchester City, or even win trophies, when they’ve got situations like this happening in the club.
“I can tell you what Fergie would’ve done, too. There’d have been a complete ban on Pogba speaking to all media. Because it’s obvious that he’s been feeding off the attention he’s been getting and that’s made it even worse.
“Pogba is letting his personal vendetta with Mourinho take over his game.”
“The body language in this footage suggests the kind of stare-down that you see between prize-fighters at a weigh-in.
“Pogba arrives looking chipper enough, greeting other players with some upbeat hand-slaps but when he spots Mourinho mooching with his hands in his pockets he pauses in what looks like disbelief or shock, staring intently at the manager whose concealing of his hands shows he has no intention of offering a warm greeting.
“There appears to be words exchanged but it’s the ongoing staring and facial expressions that seems to define what looks suspiciously like dislike between the two men.
“Jose walks behind his player and Pogba turns his head to continue the stare.
“The fact this incident was played out in public and in front of the team rather than back in the office suggests little desire for any fence-building at this stage.”