Jose Mourinho has thrown down the gauntlet to benched Paul Pogba, demanding he match the fight and spirit his Manchester United team-mates showed in Saturday’s win over Fulham.
Midfielder Pogba, who cost a world-record £89million when United signed him from Juventus in 2016, an unused sub at Old Trafford as the Premier League’s bottom club were 4-1 thrashed — ending the Reds’ run of four top-flight games without a victory.
Boss Mourinho said the 25-year-old Frenchman, who was also kept on the bench for the midweek draw at home to Arsenal, needs to deliver when he returns him to the team for Wednesday night’s dead-rubber Champions League group finale away to Spanish side Valencia.
Asked what a player who helped France win the World Cup less than five months ago has to do to get back into his Premier League team, Mourinho said: “He has to play with the same mentality as the team is playing.
“Paul can be a fantastic player, he has the potential to be a fantastic player. Against Valencia he is going to start and have a fantastic football game to play and to show everybody how good he is.”
United moved up to sixth in the table with the victory — and a performance which left their manager delighted.
“The second half was [Fulham manager Claudio] Ranieri’s fault — he made two changes that improved his team and gave us problems that we didn’t have in the first half. I also think there was some fatigue in some of my players. A few factors made the second half not as good as the first.
“We were intense without the ball and with the ball. Without the ball we pressed, we kept Mitrovic away from the goal. With the ball it was simple, one or two touches. We were really good.
“We needed it. The last three matches we didn’t lose, but didn’t win. Now we have two away matches, then two at home. Let’s see if we can get more points from those matches.
“The players have shown they can be a better team than they are.
“When there is solidarity in the team, everyone giving their maximum, you attract more positive things.”