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Pogba’s agent hits back at critics, dares Man United to sell Pogba

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Mino Railoa, the agent of Paul Pogba, has emptied a can of gas onto the already-raging inferno that is Manchester United, daring the club to sell his superstar client if anyone around the club is unhappy with his performances.

[ MORE: Woodward to appoint director of football at Manchester United ]

Raiola’s comments came Tuesday morning, in the wake of harsh — but fair — criticism over Pogba’s performance in Man United’s 3-2 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. United legend Paul Scholes merely echoed much of what the 25-year-old Red Devils captain said of himself and his teammates during post-game interviews.

“There’s a lack of leaders in the team. We thought Paul Pogba might be the ideal candidate to be that leader, but he wasn’t there today. He had another really poor game. He’s so inconsistent.

“Pogba’s playing the ball out of play, he’s overhitting passes, he’s hitting passes short, he’s getting caught in possession.

Still, it didn’t sit well with Raiola, thus he launched a Twitter attack early Tuesday morning, facetiously advising Scholes to “become United’s sports director and advise [chief executive Ed] Woodward to sell Pogba.”

The reality is, of course, that every time Pogba completes a transfer, Raiola pockets a massive windfall of cash. It was reported that he received a $29-million agent’s fee following the Frenchman’s move from Juventus to United in the summer of 2016.

[ MORE: Klopp: Let’s not worry about sending statements to Man City ]

Gary Neville and Mike Phelan, Scholes’ former teammate and assistant manager, respectively, wasted little time in hitting back at Raiola. Jose Mourinho, who spent the latter part of the summer criticizing Pogba — and plenty of his teammates — has not yet weighed in on Raiola’s comments, but his response will undoubtedly arrive in short order.

The five-alarm fire burns brighter and hotter than ever before.

Pogba: Brighton was ‘hungrier’ than Man United

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Jose Mourinho said Manchester United was “really, really, really down” at halftime of their 3-2 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

[ MORE: Recap | Mourinho reacts ]

His captain, Paul Pogba, didn’t let those vibes temper his efforts to turn the game around, though he admits his Red Devils weren’t up to the challenge.

“They had more hunger than us and the result is the right one for them,” he said.

Pogba said he was disappointed in his performance, and the team’s mentality.

From the BBC:

“I will always try. I know I lost a lot of balls which shouldn’t happen. I tried, I kept pushing, that’s my personality. I tried to help the team as much as possible. It didn’t happen today.

“Brighton prepared the game very well. Maybe we didn’t have the attitude to break them, to kill them when we had to kill them and to go through the lines. That’s a lesson we have to keep in mind.”

There have been warning bells ringing at Manchester United for some time, and Old Trafford will be a nightmare if the Red Devils don’t answer them against Spurs a week from Monday.

Pogba was far from the main problem on Sunday. He set Romelu Lukaku up for what could’ve easily been the opening goal of the game — and usually would be — with a delightful through ball, and influenced the game on several occasions aside from his converted penalty kick.

But with Fred struggling and Nemanja Matic absent, Pogba was needed more in his 2017-18 role and couldn’t dominate defensively. That’s a tall ask down 3-1, but he has to stop the match from getting to that point.

EDIT: Here’s video and some more thoughts from Pogba after the match:

“Everybody likes to play against United. Obviously they want to beat us, they want to win. We need to be more focused,” he said. “Obviously much better than today. I’m not a superhero to see the future but obviously we need to play much better than today.”

Manchester United baffled by Brighton

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Brighton and Hove Albion stunned a haphazard Manchester United 3-2 at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.

The win puts both teams at 1-1, with the Gulls getting goals from Glenn Murray, Pascal Gross, and Shane Duffy. Romelu Lukaku scored for United in the first half, before Marouane Fellaini drew a Paul Pogba-converted penalty.

Manchester United next meets Spurs at Old Trafford, while Brighton travels to Liverpool.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Pogba played Romelu Lukaku through on goal, but the Belgian’s hard low strike zipped wide of the near post.

It was mostly United in the first 20 minutes before Anthony Knockaert raced onto a long ball and spun a 20-yard shot wide of David De Gea‘s far post.

Brighton did indeed take the lead through Murray, who cut in front of Victor Lindelof to flick a pretty ball from Solly March beyond De Gea.

Duffy then settled a cross in the heart of the United box before doubling Brighton’s advantage, and it would be a big dig for United.

Lukaku made it 2-1, rewarding for a fine first half-hour with a knockdown header from Luke Shaw‘s partially blocked shot.

But a poor pass from David De Gea led to Eric Bailly‘s sliding challenge on Pascal Gross. He converted the penalty to make it 3-1.

Mourinho completed his substitutions early, taking off Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira, and Juan Mata for Marcus Rashford (HT), Jesse Lingard (HT), and Marouane Fellaini (60′).

United snapped to life with 16 minutes to play, Paul Pogba forcing Mathew Ryan into a flying parry.

But only a Fellaini-won penalty arrived deep in stoppage time, with Pogba converting his effort.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The 2 Robbies: Sarri sinks Emery at Stamford Bridge

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
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The 2 Robbies Football Show is back! Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle catch up on an action-packed Saturday in the Premier League. They discuss Maurizio Sarri’s first game at Stamford Bridge (01:55), as Chelsea beat Unai Emery’s Arsenal in an open game full of chances (11:00). Followed by a roundup of the other Saturday fixtures and finished up talking Jose Mourinho vs. Paul Pogba (27:00) and looked back at their sit down with Pep Guardiola (31:20).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Mourinho defends Pogba, denies rift

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Jose Mourinho has denied he’s fallen out with Paul Pogba at Manchester United.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Following Pogba’s Man of the Match display as United’s captain in their 2-1 win against Leicester City to open the weekend, the French midfielder said he would be fined if he spoke about rumors regarding a move to Barcelona.

Mourinho told reporters “you have to ask him” when asked to explain Pogba’s comments, and he then went on to defend his relationship with the World Cup winner.

“The truth is we are together for two years and I’ve never been so happy with him as I am now. That’s the truth. I cannot demand more from him, I cannot ask more from him,” Mourinho said. “It is exactly what I demand from my players, what he is giving me. I want him to play for the team, which he is doing and I couldn’t be happier than what I am.”

Pressed further about why Pogba — who was handed the captains armband for the season opener and will keep it for the trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday — believed he would be fined if he spoke out, Mourinho was defiant.

“I don’t care. I want him to play well. I want him to play for the team. I want him to play for the fans. And that is what he did. He is working extremely well here,” Mourinho said. “I have to say, in his defense, write what you want about him, write what you want about me. But please, don’t say lies. Please don’t put him in a situation where people can think that he is not the polite, educated guy, that he is. He has never had a fight with me. We never had an exchange of words. I have no problems at all. The only player that has been fined here is Anthony Martial, it is not easy to be fined at this club.”

Mourinho is rallying around Pogba and wants to put an end to the speculation around the World Cup winner moving away from Old Trafford.

With Barcelona lurking, Pogba won’t be sold this summer, surely, but there have been more than a few strong hints of their relationship breaking down over the past two years. From Mourinho not praising Pogba for his mature, powerful displays for France at the World Cup to Pogba being dropped last season, United’s manager can’t blame everyone else for picking up on some negative vibes.

Mourinho seems to want to end the speculation but it is down to Pogba to state if he’s happy or not at United under the combative Portuguese coach.