Following his summer departure from Manchester United, Paul Pogba has released his own documentary, which includes Jose Mourinho.
For two and a half years, Manchester United’s support was divided by a polarizing debate: Team Jose Mourinho against Team Paul Pogba.
To others, the outspoken Portuguese manager deserved total authority over all affairs at the club in order to strengthen his grip on the squad. Others believe Pogba earned the flexibility and permission to pursue his interests outside of football in order to be happier on the field.
In an ideal world, Mourinho would have gotten what he wanted, and Pogba would have been given such a privilege as a symbol of trust from his boss in appreciation of the world-class talent he contributed to the squad.
Mourinho’s desires were frequently ignored, and Pogba rarely delivered talismanic performances on the field to warrant such treatment.
“He gave me energy, he gave me positivity,” Pogba remarked of Mourinho after rejoining United in 2016. “They all told me he’s the coach for me – he’ll push me to improve and work harder.”
The signs were positive, with the partnership delivering three trophies in their first season together at Old Trafford, but the fractures would soon appear.
The release of Pogba’s self-indulgent documentary this week sparked more of the criticism he experienced during his time at Old Trafford, with the Frenchman remembered for his off-field antics as much as his on-field performances.
Many regarded Pogba as a scapegoat for his lifestyle, which saw him indulge in his own personal brand, but any criticism of him as a player was legitimate considering how poorly he performed after joining United for a then-world-record amount.
Mourinho was one of those detractors. Back in the summer of 2018, he chastised Pogba for his lack of ‘concentration’ at United, claiming that it was the World Cup winner’s responsibility to convert his international form to club level, rather than United’s.
“I don’t think it’s about us bringing the best out of him; I think it’s about him delivering the best of himself,” Mourinho explained. “I believe the World Cup is the ideal environment for a player like him to give his or her all.
“Why? Because it’s closed for a month and all he can think about is football. Where he is with his team at a training camp, entirely separated from the outside world, focusing just on football, where the dimensions of the game can only motivate.”
Victory at the World Cup only strengthened the player’s position in this strained relationship, with some at Carrington referring to Pogba as “The King” after his triumphant return.
“His ego changed tremendously,” a United source stated of Pogba’s return to the club following international success in Russia. Another remarked that Mourinho and his team were “f——d” as United deified their new world champion.
Mourinho told Pogba in September 2018 that he would never captain the team again, and he was stripped of the vice-captaincy job due to concerns over his attitude. After a string of bad performances, the Portuguese were fired three months later.
Pogba didn’t help his case when he celebrated Mourinho’s dismissal on Twitter with the infamous “Caption this” tweet, and it was an even worse look when he mysteriously rediscovered spectacular form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, assisting two goals in a 5-1 thumping of Cardiff in his first game in charge.
The release of his ‘Pigmentary’ this week has done him no favors in terms of silencing his critics and has only served to highlight his status as a brand that also plays football.
“Pogba is something we created.” “In one scenario, Rafaela Pimenta, the lawyer who has been overseeing the Frenchman’s affairs since Mino Raiola’s death, explains. “It’s a trademark. There are emojis, Pogmojis, and cups. He has shows and haircuts, and we think it will entertain people.”
It’s interesting that the same charges leveled at Pogba have been leveled at United in recent years, with the club apparently more focused on commercialism than football success.
In that situation, Pogba is not the only one to blame, and United must shoulder a significant share of the guilt for siding with their poster boy rather than their former boss.
If they are to truly put things right with their next culture reset, a divorce from Pogba was required, no matter how strained the relationship became, and United must once again demonstrate that they are primarily a football club rather than a worldwide brand.
United is still paying for saying ‘no way, Jose.’