Football

Man United star Pogba tight-lipped for fear of being fined

France midfielder's veiled comments point at rift with United manager Mourinho

Paul Pogba added fuel to rumours of his deteriorating relationship with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, saying he could not express himself for fear of being fined.

The 25-year-old - who scored a superb goal in France's 4-2 victory over Croatia in the World Cup final - was credited with a "monster performance" by Mourinho in United's 2-1 English Premier League win over Leicester City on Friday. Pogba's goal from the penalty spot sent United on the way to an opening-day win.

However, Pogba - who cost United a then-world record £89 million (S$156m) in 2016 to prise him away from Juventus - is known to be upset by Mourinho's remarks about his performances at the World Cup compared to those for his club last season, AFP reported.

Mourinho had implied Pogba - whose agent Mino Raiola has reportedly been talking with Barcelona - had flourished under Didier Deschamps at the World Cup because he could not be distracted by his entourage or by his commercial obligations.

"There are things and there are things that I cannot say otherwise I will get fined," Pogba told the British press after the Leicester match in a rare occasion he has stopped to speak with them.

The midfielder, who was given the captaincy by Mourinho on Friday, summed up what it meant for him to be happy and comfortable.

"If you're not happy, you cannot give your best," said Pogba.

"You have to know one thing: a player who gets chosen and is happy, always feel more comfortable than when he's not happy. That's all I say."

Pogba, who was dropped by Mourinho for both legs of the Champions League last-16 loss to Sevilla last season, said there were differences between playing for France and United.

"I am the same, but it's a different team, obviously," said Pogba.

"I still enjoying playing football but, like I said, when you are comfortable or confident and are good in the head, it's going to be easier."

He also added that "everybody was on the same page" in the France dressing room, from Deschamps to the staff and players - that has not necessarily been the case at United with several players at different times singled out for public criticism by Mourinho.

"When you have everybody with you, everybody next to you, you know they want to fight for you, obviously it's going to be easier," he said.

POGBA LOVES UNITED

However, Pogba - who could still leave despite last Thursday's English transfer deadline day as most European leagues keep their transfer windows open until the end of this month - professed his deep love for the club.

"I always love United. I came from the academy, I played for the first team. For me, it was a dream come true."

Meanwhile, former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer believes the Portuguese boss will be sacked if he keeps on publicly criticising his players.

Speaking as a pundit on BBC's Match of the Day, Shearer said: "When you look at Mourinho when he first came into the Premier League, he was happy, he was cheeky, he was smiley, he was arrogant in a good way.

"Every time you see him now, he's frowning, he's angry, he wants to row with everyone.

"We've learnt from the past that, if he takes too many players on like he did at Chelsea and Real Madrid, then there's only one thing that will happen."

Football