Jose Mourinho wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he didn’t have to constantly respond to critics, thus it’s a
good great thing the Manchester United manager is a world-class talent when it comes to creating and feeding those who oppose him.
use misuse, according to just about anyone who’s watch Man United this season, of Paul Pogba has been a regular source of criticism, one about which Mourinho has finally heard enough and elected to speak out.
Following his 63rd-minute substitution in a 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur two weeks ago (his first failure to complete the full 90 minutes since returning to Old Trafford two summers ago), Pogba was dropped to the bench for last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Huddersfield. As far as Mourinho’s concerned, there’s no issue whatsoever being player and manager; between manager and media, however, it’s a very different story — quotes from the Guardian:
“Paul had a very professional behavior. The week was not different to what Paul is every week. He works well, he’s a good professional, he likes to train. I’ve never had a single problem with him.
“When people ask his best position: he’s a midfield player. It depends on the tactical system but he will always be a midfielder. Then with so many opinions, and we are in a world of opinions, people can get confused. There is no confusion between me and Paul. It’s difficult to play a midfielder with more potential than Paul.
“In relation to his best position, I had a few laughs over the past week because I heard, I watched, had a chance to read a few things and I’m not English, but I understand English enough to understand what I want to say with ‘box to box.’
“But with some comments from important people in football, I got a little bit confused because, for me, box-to-box means that you have to defend well in this box, you must have the physical , the desire, the intensity, the stamina condition to go to the other box and be good scoring, creating, heading, so on.
“This week I was confused when people say ‘box to box’; to play free of defensive duties, that’s not box to box. When people say what’s his best position for Paul to play: Paul is a midfield player.”
Mourinho is right in saying this is “a world of opinions,” so here’s one more on Pogba and his best position: he is being misused by Mourinho; he’s not a box-to-box midfielder; he’s a roaming playmaker who requires ample defensive protection from his midfield partner(s); he’s also playing in a league now, as opposed to his time at Juventus, where he became a $116-million player, where (at least) half of the midfielders possess many of the same physical and athletic traits that, while being a supremely talented player both technically and tactically, oftentimes set him apart from the competition.