Manchester United manager José Mourinho explained why he left Paul Pogba on the bench for the Red Devils Champions League 0-0 draw in Sevilla in the face of growing speculation about his relationship with the midfielder.
Mourinho said the French midfielder started on the bench as he was not “feeling one hundred percent”, before criticising the media for focusing on Pogba instead of teenager Scott McTominay, who put in an outstanding performance in Pogba’s usual role.
“If I was one of you [the media] I would ask if the Manchester United manager agrees that Scott McTominay had a fantastic performance. My answer would be yes he looked a senior player with great maturity, tactical sense, good in possession, good in pressing.
He then went on to talk about Pogba.
“Paul made a big effort to try to give me what I asked. Paul replaced Ander [Herrera] and tried to give the game the same qualities. He lost a couple of possessions, but he gave us also stability. We had a good percentage of the ball and that means control of the game, and Paul had the responsibility for that.”
So José Mourinho finally switches to a 4-3-3 but has now dropped Paul Pogba to the bench. Oh life.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) February 21, 2018
Pogba declared himself unwell to play on Saturday. Mourinho telling him he can’t pick and choose his games. Sorry, you have to back the manager in situations like that.
— Wayne Barton (@WayneSBarton) February 21, 2018
I admire Mourinho for picking McTominay ahead of Pogba. If Pogba isn't doing the job the manager wants him to do, then he doesn't leave him with much choice
— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) February 21, 2018
The Portuguese then turned his attention to the reverse fixture at Old Trafford in three weeks, and said he wanted “a big Champions League night”.
“I think we finished the game with more space than we had in the beginning, more close to the possibility of scoring a goal,” Mourinho said.
“The only moment we felt relieved was at the end of the first half, where by a couple of mistakes in possession they had a couple of good situations that gave this fantastic stadium the emotion they normally have for 90 minutes.
“Apart from that the game was even. Sometimes you have 15 shots but 13 of them are what I call statistic shots. So I feel the result reflects what the game was.
“Was it a good result? It’s not good, its not bad. Now we have one match to decide everything at Old Trafford. Old Trafford needs a big Champions League night and it’s going to get it.”