English Premiership

I'll give Pogba Man Utd freedom, vows Mourinho

2016-08-20 14:24
Jose Mourinho (Getty Images)

Manchester - Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho pledged to shape his team around Paul Pogba after the France midfielder made a successful Old Trafford return in a 2-0 win over Southampton.

Pogba played the whole game as Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace sank Southampton on Friday, a week after returning to United from Juventus in a world-record transfer.

Despite playing in a midfield holding role, Pogba got forward well, making a total of four attempts at goal, and Mourinho said that he was determined to give the 23-year-old the freedom to play his natural game.

Asked what instructions he had given Pogba, Mourinho replied simply: "Play."

He added: "I don't know which position he played. For a player to play with the freedom he has, we have to build a certain organisation around him. He has to play with freedom.

"The last 10 minutes, 2-0, now (you need) more discipline, more tactical organisation, but this is the kind of guy that has to play free."

Pogba's second debut, four years on from his last United appearance, got off to an embarrassing start when he produced an air-kick in midfield, but Mourinho was delighted by the way he regained his composure.

"I think he was fantastic. His first action was bad. He loses an easy ball and gives a counter-attack and a first free-kick to the opponent," Mourinho said.

"(But) you can see even more the ego, the personality. He's so comfortable in the skin of a star, so confident, the way he plays.

"For 10 days' work, first match of the season, not even 10 minutes of a friendly, I think he played phenomenal."

Mourinho also reserved words of praise for Pogba's midfield partner Marouane Fellaini.

Fellaini became a figure of derision under Mourinho's predecessors David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, but the United manager said that he had worked hard to build up the Belgium international's confidence.

- Puel regrets -

"Maybe a simple phone call can make a difference," said the Portuguese, whose side provisionally went three points clear at the Premier League summit.

"A player that was feeling he was not loved. A player that when the market opened, everybody was saying he was leaving and was not a player for me.

"Maybe a simple phone call the day after my presentation as Man United manager changed a lot because I told him: 'Forget everything you read. With me, you don't leave, for sure.'

"Then I think the more organised the team play, the easier for the players to feel confident. He's playing well, with (Michael) Carrick, with (Ander) Herrera, with Paul.

"I think he's full of confidence, but I have so many good players. I arrived in the dressing room after the match and I was happy, and I became sad.

"All the other guys were there in their nice Paul Smith suits -- Carrick, Memphis (Depay), (Phil) Jones -- that I don't select."

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with a towering header from Wayne Rooney's cross in the 36th minute and made it 2-0 from the penalty spot early in the second half after Jordy Clasie tripped Luke Shaw.

The Swedish striker, who was making his home debut, has now scored four times in three United appearances.

Southampton created a few opportunities prior to falling behind, with Shane Long threatening twice, and manager Claude Puel lamented his side's failure to take their chances.

"We finish this game with a lot of regrets because we had many situations," said the Frenchman.

Puel has introduced a new system featuring a diamond midfield, but he downplayed the significance of the tactical change.

"The system is not the most important thing. The most important thing for us is to play football," he said.

"When you play good football, we can make good opportunities. It's important to play and to believe in our potential. This is the most important thing."


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Saturday, 24 February 2018
Leicester City v Stoke City, King Power Stadium 14:30
Liverpool v West Ham United, Anfield 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Swansea City, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
West Bromwich Albion v Huddersfield Town, The Hawthorns 17:00
Burnley v Southampton, Turf Moor 17:00
AFC Bournemouth v Newcastle United, Vitality Stadium 17:00
Watford v Everton, Vicarage Road Stadium 19:30
Sunday, 25 February 2018
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur, Selhurst Park 14:00
Manchester United v Chelsea, Old Trafford 16:05
Thursday, 01 March 2018
Arsenal v Manchester City, Emirates Stadium 21:45
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2017/18 season?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.