Mourinho: Critics question Paul Pogba out of sheer jealousy
It’s difficult to miss French international Paul Pogba when he’s on the pitch for Manchester United, especially when he’s bleaching fluorescent yellow and letters into the side of his head.
Regardless of the color of his hair, the midfielder’s influence on the field will always be measured against the hefty price tag United paid for his acquisition: 105 million euros (then $116 million). However, manager Jose Mourinho said Pogba’s naysayers should get a grip, they’re critical of his play simply because they’re jealous, he said.
“I feel that the world is losing values and we all know that,” Mourinho said Wednesday. “Envy is coming into certain levels that I am scared with, especially with the next generation if things go in this direction.
“It’s not Paul’s fault that he gets 10 times the money that some very good players did in the past. It’s not his fault that some of the pundits are in real trouble with their lives and they need every coin to survive and Paul is a multimillionaire. It’s not his fault. I think he deserves respect.”
Mourinho’s words came in response to a journalist’s question about Pogba’s impact on a team that is sixth in the Premier League. But it came from a manager renowned for his ability to deflect the focus from his team’s struggles with outlandish statements.
When United faced off against Chelsea in the FA Cup Monday night, it was a different French midfielder that commanded the attention with his play, but he was wearing blue. N’Golo Kante cost Chelsea around 30 million pounds ($40 million at the time), an expense that’s shaping up to look like a bargain next to Pogba’s world-record signing.
Kante also scored the goal that sent Chelsea screaming into the FA Cup semifinals, his statistics also bettered Pogba’s — for example, Kante recorded 70 passes in the match to Pogba’s 27. The United man also only achieved a 27 percent success rate in duels while Kante’s doggedness saw 79 percent of duels won.
While Kante is slated to win back-to-back Premier League titles after being a key component in Leicester’s astonishing success last season, Pogba will have to settle with second-tier successes. Manchester have already won the League Cup, and remains in contention for the Europa League.
But back in England’s Premier League, Pogba has only chalked up three assists and four goals in 25 games, his squad remains 17 points behind Chelsea in the standings.
But don’t blame him, at least not around Mourinho.
“I’m very happy with Paul, the club is very happy with Paul,” he said. “A good thing is that because of his personality he doesn’t give an (expletive) to what people say.”
Pogba is observed publicly as an enigma in several ways, especially since he’s already been through one bitter divorce with the club. However, he managed to find his way back to Old Trafford, unlike many of the others who have left. The academy graduate left when his contract expired after falling out with then-manager Alex Ferguson with only seven appearances as a substitute to his name. Pogba flourished in Italy with Juventus and Mourinho was determined to get him back.
“(He is) a kid that came to Manchester as a teenager, that fought for his career here, that was not afraid to move and go to another country and to look for better conditions for him,” Mourinho said. “A kid that reached the top of the world with his work. Nobody give him anything.”