Jose Mourinho says he has never been happier with Paul Pogba as the Manchester United manager dismissed talk that tensions had come to a head this week.
The 25-year-old produced a captain’s performance as he opened the scoring and helped United start the Premier League campaign with a 2-1 win against Leicester a week ago.
The display would have gone a long way to silencing talk about Pogba’s Old Trafford happiness was it not for a striking post-match interview in which he claimed that “there are things that I cannot say otherwise I will get fined”.
A report this week said that those comments had led to an angry exchange, but Mourinho diffused such talk ahead of Sunday’s trip to Brighton.
“The truth is we are together for two years and a couple of weeks, and I’ve never been so happy with him as I am now,” the United boss said. “That’s the truth.
“I cannot demand more from him, I cannot ask more from him.
“He came here on a Monday, he trained three days, I asked for his support, for his contribution in an important match for us when the team had difficulties.
“He did it better and for more time than we could expect.
“When he says he did it for the fans and for the team, it is exactly what I want. It is exactly what I demand from my players is what he is giving me.
“He’s working well, he’s playing well, he does for the fans, he does for the team and that’s what I want.
“I want him to play for the team which he is doing, and, I repeat, I couldn’t be happier than what I am.”
Mourinho’s relationship with Pogba and the club-record signing’s contentment dominated a press conference nominally previewing the Brighton match.
The United boss confirmed that the France international will wear the captain’s armband again on the south coast, but the cloud of the player’s post-match interview continued to linger.
“I don’t care,” Mourinho said of the interview. “I don’t care.
“I repeat, I want him to play well, I want him to play for that team, the fans, and that is what it is.
“He’s working extremely well here, but I have to say in his defence that write what you want about him, write what you want about me, please don’t say lies.
“Please don’t put him in a situation where people can think he’s not a polite, educated guy, which he is.
“He’s very polite, he’s very educated, he never had a fight with me.
“We never had a warm or hard – I don’t know how you like to say – change of words. Everything is respected, I have no problems at all.”
When pressed on the reasons for Pogba making his comments about possibly being fined, Mourinho added: “You have to ask him, you have to ask him.
“I am here for two years and a couple of months and the only player that was fined was Anthony Martial, so it is not easy to be fined here.
“So, you have to ask him. I didn’t ask him, I am not going to ask him.
“I repeat, I want him to work the way he is doing and to play the way he is doing and for me that’s the only thing that matters.”
Mourinho confirmed Martial’s fine revolved around recent events involving his late return following the birth of his second child.
The Frenchman was on the bench against Leicester last week, when Matteo Darmian started despite his explicit intention to return to Italy this month.
But with the transfer deadline on Friday evening, Mourinho now expects the full-back to stay despite links to Napoli, Inter Milan and Juventus.
“I don’t think he will go and he cannot have any bad feeling towards us because we opened the door for him in case his desire was to go,” he said.
“But it looks like it’s not going to end in a transfer, and for me it is good news.
“For me, it is good news that Matteo is staying. He’s always an option for us, he’s always a reliable player.”
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