Dressing Room Outburst Re-Opens Wounds
The rift between Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and midfielder Paul Pogba was torn wide open again following the side’s 2-2 draw at Southampton on Saturday.
Relations between the two men appeared to be on the mend following a period for much of the year when the two seemed to be at loggerheads. But reports from the United dressing room on Saturday suggests there had been a serious setback.
Mourinho is believed to have strongly criticised Pogba after the game. He had already thrown his hands in the air in despair on the touchline when the France international gave away possession by trying fancy flick. But he is believed to have called Pogba “a virus” in the dressing room. According to journalist Duncan Castles of the Daily Record the United boss added: “You don’t play. You don’t respect players and supporters. And you kill the mentality of the good honest people around you.”
If the reports are true then it will once again call into question Pogba’s future at the club. Former club Juventus are believed to be interested.
But Mourinho’s long-term future at Old Trafford is also under threat. Saturday’s result leaves United in seventh place in the Premier League table. But they are now eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
United managers are judged on whether or not they bring Champions League football to Old Trafford. Both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were sacked after failing to qualify for Europe’s top competition and Mourinho’s job was also on the line when United faced Ajax in the Europa League Final of 2017. A defeat to the Dutch side and he would have been sacked as United had finished outside the top four places.
There is no chance at all of Pogba being sold in the January transfer window. But he may well outlast Mourinho at Old Trafford if the side fail to gain a top four spot. With Manchester City and Liverpool romping away at the top of the table, Chelsea steady and a Arsenal in fourth place, Champions League qualification is beginning to look distant for Manchester United.