Cryptic captain Pogba: ‘There are things I cannot say’
Manchester United midfielder has been the subject of speculation all summer.
Paul Pogba cast fresh doubt over his Manchester United future by saying he would get fined if he really opened up about his happiness.
Two years after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus in a world-record deal, the 25-year-old is reported to be so unhappy that he has informed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward of his desire to leave.
United have denied that happened, while it was also reported that Mino Raiola, the player’s agent, had even struck a deal with Barcelona – the kind of interest that the club have vowed to reject.
A tense relationship with Jose Mourinho appears to be at the heart of it. Questions about their relationship were raised last term and the midfielder is said to have been annoyed by his manager’s comments around the World Cup.
Pogba only returned to training at the start of the week after helping France to win the tournament but he was thrust into the starting line-up on Friday and given the captain’s armband, with his penalty setting United on course for a 2-1 win against Leicester.
It was an impressive display that led to a standing ovation and hope that the Old Trafford faithful would now see the best from a supremely talented midfielder.
“What do you mean being the real Pogba?” he asked.
“You have to know one thing: a player that gets chosen and is happy, you always feel more comfortable than when he’s not happy. That’s all I say.”
Pogba was pushed on his response and said that “if you’re not happy, you cannot give your best” when asked about what represents happiness and comfort for him.
The 25-year-old believes that there is no point doing a job if you are not enjoying it, so he was asked whether he is currently happy and comfortable right now.
“There are things and there are things that I cannot say otherwise I will get fined,” Pogba said before walking off.
If you're not happy, you cannot give your best Paul Pogba
It was a striking comment from the midfielder in what has been one of few occasions that he has stopped to speak to the written media after a United match.
Maybe Pogba was keen to get something off his chest on Friday, or perhaps this is part of how he fulfils the role of captain.
“It’s not having just the armband,” Pogba said of his view on leadership. “I have always been talking to the team-mates.
“I am someone who is not (in) a role that I give to myself. Just try to help the team as much as possible, like they helped me too.
“Having the armband, it’s not like ‘oh, I will show that I am a real captain and have to do extra work’.
“No, I just have to be myself and do what I know, do what I can do and do what I know to do.”
Former captain Michael Carrick and fellow coach Kieran McKenna informed Pogba that he would skipper United in his first match since winning the World Cup.
“I am the same, it’s the same Paul Pogba, the France midfielder said, reflecting on his summer. “It’s a different team, obviously.
“I still enjoying playing football, I still love football and I still give my best with the team, for the team.
“Like I said, when you are comfortable, when people trust with everyone or confident, are good in the head, it’s going to be easier.”
Pogba said “everybody was on the same page” in the France dressing room, from manager Didier Deschamps to the kitman, physio and players.
“When we have everybody with you, everybody next to you know they want to fight for you, obviously it’s going to be easier, you know?” he said. “It’s going to be easier and it makes the team go higher.”
Coy on what United could achieve this season, Pogba knows the importance of aiming for success with the club and the responsibility that came with wearing the armband.
“I always love the club,” he said. “I love the club. I came in the academy, I grew up.
“I came from the academy, I played for the first team. For me, it was a dream come true.
“And wearing this, it’s even more because of the past, because of the players that played here, the people that have been wearing this.”