The ongoing feud between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba moved up a notch in tension this week – but who will be left standing in the player v coach battle?
The footage of Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho staring at each other as if they are about to start a massive fight at Manchester United’s training ground is one of those iconic moments in football history in the time of social media. It’s pretty clear – if anyone needed any further proof – that the French midfielder and the manager don’t get along. At all. One will have to leave United: but who will it be?
The premise is that both Mourinho and Pogba have been disappointing at Manchester United. Their best moment is lifting the Europa League trophy: Pogba scoring in the final, and Mourinho bringing silverware to the club straight away. Let’s be honest: it’s a good achievement, but not exactly legendary. Not the kind of trophy that will stand out in Manchester United’s cabinet.
? A CLOSER LOOK! ?
It looks like Jose Mourinho wasn't too happy with Paul Pogba's Instagram post last night…?
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 26, 2018
Pogba arrived as the highest-paid footballer ever at the club, and has won the World Cup with France since he joined United. Mourinho arrived as the man to bring stability after the post Alex Ferguson era began. Great expectations for both, very little delivered so far.
Now the two are in open war. Mourinho reportedly told Pogba he will never captain United again, and the Frenchman was caught laughing on Instagram moments after the Red Devils got knocked out by Derby County in the League Cup (although a late wifi-delayed posting from earlier in the match was given as the reason). The Special One didn’t like this at all. And he is the manager after all – his decisions will always count more than those of a player.
Reports believe Pogba will join Barcelona, and Mourinho would be happy to see him go. It goes without saying that the French international has been underperforming under Jose, and it is impossible to say whether it is his fault or the manager’s.
What is clear is that there is space for just one of the two at Manchester United. Of course, it is often easier to sack a manager than it is to change many players. The toxic environment surrounding the team won’t help with on-the-pitch results – which are ultimately what matter, and what has been undermining Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford.
Surely, it can’t be Pogba’s fault alone if United are being repetitively boring, and unable to win. That is more down to the manager. Mourinho will go down in history as one of the greatest coaches ever, but perhaps his best years are over. Also, his career shows that if he is unable to get the team to follow him, he usually fails.
Pogba is surely not on his side, and he might be just the tip of the iceberg in the United changing room. But other clubs would love Pogba, whereas this is less likely with Mourinho. So it would be easier on paper for United to sack Jose and bring in a manager that can get the most from Pogba, but realistically the Frenchman could leave for fresh cash, with more power in Mourinho’s hands to bring in the players he needs to try and bring the glory days back at Old Trafford.
So if the right amount of money makes it to Manchester, Pogba will be leaving for a more friendly environment, and Mourinho will be left standing at United with more power in the changing room and with fresh cash to spend on players who are willing to work with him.