Jose Mourinho said there were no fitness concerns with Paul Pogba when he hauled the Manchester United midfielder off after 65 minutes of a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United at St. James’ Park.
[ RECAP: Newcastle 1-0 Man Utd ]
Michael Carrick was waiting to come on for Pogba lost his mark and Newcastle scored its goal. Mourinho still made the move.
Here’s Mourinho’s explanation:
“I wanted a better way to come out in the first phase against a team that was defending in a very compact block,” Mourinho said on NBCSN.
“I was trying that with the simplicity of Michael Carrick because he tries to make everything simple and bring Alexis in an area close to Lukaku where he can be like a second striker. I was unlucky because they scored a goal in the seconds after, and then I’m going to face a different Newcastle where in that moment the only thing they think is defend.”
That’s all well and good, but the fact that Mourinho still took Pogba off following the goal shows this was more about a point then, well, a point on the table.
The telling word is simplicity. Pogba is one of the most creative forces in the world, a genuine artist. At times, that’s frustrating for Mourinho, whether deserved consternation or not.
This will play out in the manager’s favor, so Pogba is going to have to find a happy medium. That may sound crazy considering Pogba is one of the world’s best, but United is again a manager’s club under Mourinho.