Many of the national outlets in the UK are suggesting that the standoff between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba is intensifying with neither willing to step down.
After Mourinho benched Pogba last month it is believed a rift has developed between the Manchester United manager and his star midfielder with the duo barely interacting and tension in the air on the training ground.
With Pogba, 25, struggling to find his early season form following two injuries and time on the sidelines, Mourinho seems to have made an example of the most-expensive signing in club history. Mourinho has been playing youngster Scott McTominay ahead of Pogba in central midfield and lavishing praise on the academy product whenever he can.
As for Pogba, not so much.
With reports suggesting that Mourinho is ready to offload the French international this summer to fuel a spending spree, is there any doubt as to who will win this battle?
Given he was just handed a new long-term contract at United, it will probably be Mourinho. Yet it will be far from easy for him to offload Pogba and this power struggle may well be the defining moment of Mourinho’s United tenure.
His aim is to keep rebuilding the squad to try and get over the disappointment of a UEFA Champions League exit in the Round of 16 and coming up way short of Manchester City in the title race this season. His talk of “heritage” at Manchester City and singling out several United players for their sloppy displays smacks of a massive rebuild coming up once again this summer.
Michael Carrick is retiring, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already moved on to the LA Galaxy and the likes of Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Daley Blind all seem to be on the way out, plus Chris Smalling, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata have been linked with moves away.
Alongside all of this talk about a monumental shift in playing personnel, there has been progress under Mourinho at United this season. Reaching the knockout stages of the UCL and likely to finish in second place in the table (after a sixth-place finish last season) says as much. Yet with the team struggling for form and Mourinho’s tactics of setting his team up not to lose in the big games it appears he now has to turn the tide of negative which is building against him.
Getting rid of Pogba — who is said to be interesting Real Madrid — would be a huge statement from Mourinho and also a huge one by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the hierarchy of the club as to the level of their support of their manager over the players.
After arriving from Juventus in the summer of 2016 for $120 million amid much fanfare with his own emoji, flashy hairstyles, a commercial superpower and dubbed a match made in heaven for United, Pogba’s second spell at Old Trafford just isn’t working out. Mourinho has tried him in holding midfield, as a No. 10 and out wide in a three-man midfield but something isn’t clicking despite flashes of his brilliance, especially early in the season.
Mourinho and Pogba don’t appear to be a good fit either on or off the pitch and there is likely to be only one winner as their feud intensifies.
Unperturbed by being ousted twice at Chelsea due to losing power struggles with players, plus the same being said during his time at Real Madrid, Mourinho is steaming ahead and Pogba’s future at United beyond this season seems in serious doubt.
Less than two years into his much-lauded return to Old Trafford, Pogba’s clash with Mourinho appears to be the beginning of the end of his time at United.