There have been a swirl of media reports in recent weeks about the supposedly fractious nature of the relationship between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba. But while the majority of the United fan base are #TeamPogz, Jose may actually have a point.
Paul Pogba on his day is one of the best central midfielders in the game. Skillful, powerful, with a sublime range of passing, he would grace virtually any team in the world. But if recent rumors are to be believed and Pogba is demanding the Manchester United team and system be built around him and what’s best for him, Mourinho has every right to drop him. Manchester United are not the only team in world football with many talented players, the difference between them and others at present it seems is a collective belief in team over the individual which Pogba is failing to buy into at the moment. Think about some of the great players United have had over the years who have at times sacrificed themselves for the good of the team: Rooney for one played unselfishly on the left in his prime to get the best out of Ronaldo.
The other side of this argument of course is that the team plays better when Pogba is in his best position on the left side of a midfield three. But from a dressing room perspective Mourinho has to take a stand if Pogba is starting to think he’s bigger than the team. Mourinho would lose so much authority and respect if he caved to the will of one player, and so dropping him to prove a point is a step Mourinho has been forced to take. It is what Sir Alex Ferguson would have done— he shipped out Beckham, Staam and was even ready to sell Rooney when his attitude changed.
Pogba has not been at his best in recent weeks. He has trudged through games sulking without making much of an impact. Yes, he's been played out of his best position, but even so it is fair to expect more from a man of Pogba's undoubted ability.
Perhaps Mourinho is dropping Pogba for such a big game in the hope that having him stew on the sidelines will light the fire under his arse that has been needed of late. It remains to be seen how Pogba reacts of course, but if Mourinho can get him back to his dominant best, it will be a Fergie-esque stroke of brilliant man management.