Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho insists his relationship with Paul Pogba remains good but underlined that “no player is bigger than the club”.
Old Trafford has been in the eye of a storm this week, with the frustrating draw at home to Wolves followed by a Carabao Cup exit to Derby and more questions around the 25-year-old’s future.
Mourinho took the vice-captaincy off Pogba in the build-up to Tuesday’s game and the following morning remarkable footage emerged of a heated training-ground conversation between the pair.
The Portuguese would not explain what was said in the conversation that made ripples around the footballing world, but confirmed that the World Cup winner will play at West Ham on Saturday.
“I explained in detailed to the people that have to know, which is the squad and especially Paul,” Mourinho said of the decision regarding the vice-captaincy.
“So, Paul and the other players in the squad, they know in detail the reason why myself and my coaching staff decided to do that.”
“I always analyse a player as a player. When a player is captain, I analyse the player by the player perspective but also by the captain perspective.
“And after weeks of analysing and changing opinions with my coaching staff, we made the decision that from now Paul is just a player and not a captain.
“So, decision made, I informed obviously the player and the players and then when I was asked I think before the match on Tuesday, I confirm and now I confirm, and now end of the story.
“And I can anticipate more questions by saying that the relation of player-manager is good, it’s not anymore a relation (of) captain or one of the captains
and manager. It’s just a relation player-manager, it’s good.
“Nobody trained better than Paul on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Nobody trained better than him. Some trained as well as him but not better than him, and tomorrow he plays, so end of the story.”
Asked if he had thought about not playing the midfielder on Saturday, Mourinho said: “No, he’s a player like the others.
“No player is bigger than the club and if I’m happy with his work, he plays. If I’m not happy, he doesn’t play.”
Mourinho was animated when talking about Pogba and seemed taken aback by a question about this week’s events potentially impacting United’s reputation.
“Manchester United is bigger than anyone and I have to defend that,” he replied.
Mourinho was dismissive when it was put to him that he did not need to speak with Pogba in front of the cameras, just as he was when asked if it was disruptive.
“Disruptive? I think for you it was amazing because you made a story, you made an incredible story out of 15 minutes of an open training session,” the United boss said.
“Maybe it’s your fault (he said pointing to a press officer, who says it was Premier League). We shouldn’t have 15 minutes of a training session open because what happened the other day happens many days.”
Mourinho added: “Conversations with players I have many, many, many times. It was not the case but loud criticism, loud instruction happens every day.
“Coaching is about that, but you make stories out of it, so I’m happy that the rules are only 15 minutes (of open training) once a month and with situations like that it is not going to change.
“There is no chance I am going to open the training session and let you watch a training session. No chance.”