Mourinho defends Pogba
World's most expensive player must show more consistency to justify price tag
MAN UNITED 4
(Paul Pogba 31-pen, 45+1, Anthony Martial 34-pen, Jesse Lingard 48)
(Robin van Persie 83)
Jose Mourinho had scoffed that Paul Pogba's transformation from the worst player in the EPL to its greatest revelation had taken 48 hours.
He was right. It was actually closer to 72 hours.
JUBILATION: Manager Jose Mourinho punching the air as Manchester United romped past Fernerbahce, thanks to two goals from Paul Pogba (above, facing camera), who showed off his dancing moves with Jesse Lingard in this combo shot.
Before a starring role in putting Fenerbahce to the sword yesterday morning (Singapore time), the France playmaker's attempted reboot at Manchester United had failed to launch.
A solitary goal in 10 pedestrian performances suggested that his £89 million ($152m) price tag had been yet more frivolous spending by the Old Trafford board.
What was supposed to be a second coming had appeared to be another false deity, much like Angel di Maria, Memphis Depay and Mourinho's two predecessors.
On Monday night, the world's most expensive footballer had failed to leave Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp choking on humble pie after questioning United's transfer largesse.
The stalemate at Anfield had passed him by, literally, but that had also summed up the story of his first season back in English football.
At the 11th attempt, however, he offered a glimpse of his true capabilities as Fenerbahce were downed 4-1 in Group A of the Europa League.
Pogba's persona has often been larger than life. His choreographed celebrations have become far more iconic than anything conjured up from his gifted right foot.
His performances, however, have become far less memorable.
Too often, it is the little things which have gone unnoticed against a backdrop of blunderings.
It is far easier to scrutinise his often clumsy conceding of possession or failed moves rather than fixate on an effortless heel flick to steal the ball.
But there is plenty to analyse after a show-stopping performance yesterday, complete with all the eccentrics that made him notorious for both his country and Juventus just 12 months ago.
Finally appearing to have made peace with his new surroundings, in a central midfield role rather than his preferred attacking berth, he exuded both confidence and authority.
Seizing the match ball from Wayne Rooney to convert United's first of two penalties in the space of three minutes before scoring a stunning long-range strike suggested that the real Pogba had finally stood up.
The Theatre of Dreams is no stranger to such sights, of course.
Another player hailed as the next big thing had also, once upon a time, announced his much-anticipated arrival by stealing the show with a goal-laden evening against Fenerbahce.
United can only hope that Pogba will realise the potential that Rooney enjoyed at his peak rather than the current predicament of a player, just days away from turning 31, whose managed decline is playing out in full view on the world's biggest stages.
Mourinho was quick to lament those he perceived as "Einsteins" for deriding the 23-year-old Pogba for his imperfect start to life back in the English Premier League.
But even those without a degree in the theory of relativity can see that rippling two goals into the East Stand's net during a leisurely outing against continental cannon fodder will not put an end to the doubts about whether Pogba can excel consistently.
Tomorrow's trip to Chelsea will pose a more exerting test for United than they enjoyed against a Turkish side with only two wins from their opening seven domestic games.
Goals do not have to necessarily follow, but a renewed sense of purpose from Pogba will allow Mourinho to detract from his current bout of conspiracy theories.
MOURINHO HITS OUT AT 'EINSTEINS'
Manchester United fans will have to wait to see the best of Paul Pogba, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
After being criticised for his performance in Monday's uninspiring goalless draw with Liverpool, the Frenchman scored twice in a 4-1 Europa League victory over Fenerbahce at Old Trafford yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Pogba converted the first of two penalties in three minutes - Anthony Martial took the second - and then scored a sublime third goal in first-half injury time.
Picking up the ball 25 metres out, the 23-year-old side-footed a shot casually into the top corner.
Mourinho again took issue with the "Einsteins" in the media who have criticised his team and former Juventus player Pogba in particular.
"First of all, in some of your mouths, he goes from the worst player in the Premier League to a great player in 48 hours," said the United boss.
"I am not specifically saying it is you. I say media, especially the Einsteins. We know he is a very good player. We know he needs some time to show his potential.
"I know Italian football very well. I know teams play completely different from the Premier League.
"I am not saying we are better, but we are different. Different in the intensity, the number of touches on the ball, everything is different and he needs time to adapt.
"He is a self-confident boy. He was not depressed because some people said he was a bad player. He was calm. It is always nice for a player to score, to score at home and especially to score such a beautiful goal."
Pogba was one of only four players retained from the starting line-up against Liverpool, with Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick and Martial among those to come in.
But there was still no place for either Morgan Schneiderlin or Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Mkhitaryan, a big-money summer signing from Borussia Dortmund, has not played since the derby loss to City on Sept 10.
Mourinho said before the game that the Armenian had recovered from a thigh injury.
"The situation is that we played with (Jesse) Lingard, with (Juan) Mata and Martial," said the United boss. "I am not an Einstein. I don't know a tactical system that can play with four wingers at the same time.
"He has to work more to get the intensity and fitness to play at a high level."
United lost their opening Europa League match to Feyenoord, but back-to-back wins have put them joint top in Group A.
They must now turn their attention back to the league and another huge game against Chelsea tomorrow.
Mourinho insisted he did not select his team with that match in mind, saying: "I choose this team because I felt it was the team to win it and because I felt after such an intense game on Monday that some of these players would be in better conditions to perform than others, but I start thinking about Chelsea tomorrow.
"Am I happy with the performance? Yes. Am I happy with individual performances? Yes. And I am happy with the result, which is the most important because the result is difficult." - PA Sport.