The 25-year-old has not managed to justify the fanfare of his world-record return from Juventus as much as the Red Devils would surely like, but things had been on the up until injury derailed a fine start to his second campaign.
Pogba has not been the same since returning from his 10-week hamstring lay-off in November and had further spells on the sidelines through fitness and form, but Mourinho insists that is not a hangover from his injury.
“This season and also last season (he had a bad injury),” the United boss said of a player who scored and assisted another for France against Russia on Tuesday.
I think he is very fine after the injury. It was a difficult injury, it was an injury that other players, other clubs, other medical assessments, they end in surgery. His option with the medical opinions was not to go to the surgery table and his recovery was really, really good and I think he is more than fine in relation to the recovery from the injury, which is a muscular area sometimes where you have a recurrence. In his case, not at all.
Put to Mourinho that Pogba has not been the same player since returning, Mourinho retorted: “It’s nothing to do with his injury. His recovery was good.”
When asked what it is do with, the Portuguese said:
Ask him. Ask him when you have a chance what he thinks about it. I work (to get the best out of him). It’s the only thing I can do. I cannot do anything else.
Jose Mourinho has said Paul Pogba can explain his form
Image credit: PA Sport
Last month Mourinho denied “lies” about their relationship amid speculation of unhappiness on both sides, but said at the same time that Pogba “didn’t play well” in recent matches.
That was a rather restrained critique from a manager who has not held back on some of his other players, most notably Luke Shaw.
The 22-year-old has endured large stretches out of the squad and been subjected to public criticism, like when he was hauled off midway through the FA Cup quarter-final win against Brighton before the international break.
Shaw was annoyed by those comments and to be taken off at half-time, when he reportedly asked Mourinho in the dressing room “why are you always picking on me?”
Luke Shaw has been in the news
Image credit: PA Sport
“A report (said) that Luke asked me why I changed him? I told him. He didn’t ask me the question,” Mourinho said of that report. “I told him.
What happened since then? Nothing. I am the coach. I make the changes I want to do when I want to do. If I want to change the player in minute five I change the player in minute five. If I want to change in minute 98, I change in minute 98. The moment when a new rule comes to football that forbids managers to do that then I become a pundit, not a manager. Nothing happened.
Shaw’s United future looks in jeopardy despite Mourinho saying not so long ago that he does not “see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw”.
“It’s true,” Mourinho said when comment was put to him, before confirming the left-back would be in the matchday squad to face Swansea on Saturday.
The United boss also expect the England international to stay at Old Trafford this summer, but left the exit door open ajar.
“Yeah, I think (he will be here next season),” Mourinho said as he left the press conference.
“But I always say that door is open for everyone, so no problem for him but I think so. He’s selected. He’s in the 18.”