Richard Buxton: Pogba and Mourinho need to make up
It is in their best interests to mend fences as both are not as coveted now as when they arrived at Old Trafford
Manchester United's on-field and touchline totems are again on a collision course.
In truth, Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho were hurtling towards it over the past 18 months.
A Champions League Round-of-16 clash with Sevilla tomorrow morning (Singapore time), however, will afford the pair an opportunity to apply a much-needed handbrake to that breakneck feud.
Clashing personalities are hardly a phenomenon at Old Trafford and the inevitable fallout often proves ugly.
But Mourinho and Pogba were an archetypal odd couple from the outset.
They are polar opposites in the Red Devils' confusing ideology; one which wants to marry the grit required to succeed in the modern game with a time-honoured eye for glamour.
That acrimony also appears destined for a long-haul stay, with neither figure currently as widely coveted as they were upon their respective arrivals at United.
Takers for Pogba are in an increasingly shorter supply than Mourinho's own list of prospective suitors.
A second chance at the Theatre of Dreams was supposed to vindicate the belief that Sir Alex Ferguson made a grave error in allowing him to leave on a free transfer in 2012.
Instead, few would be willing to even come close to reimbursing the France international's £89-million (S$163.6 million) price tag on the back of a season-and-a-half of relative indifference.
Pogba's previous perception of life at United has become worryingly reflective.
At Juventus, he had condemned life at his former club as akin to "being on holiday" - one he hated so much that, just six months later, he happily signed up for another extensive stay.
UNDER NO ILLUSIONS
Mourinho is under no illusions that the world's most expensive midfielder prefers to play a starring role on stage left rather than as a traditional centrepiece, but it is a luxury that United can ill-afford at a time when simplicity, rather than showmanship, is paramount.
Like the Special One, Pogba does not appear to be for turning; his unwavering obsession with doing the spectacular over the basics has seen one of the most talented players of his generation downgraded to little more than a glorified novelty act.
Inflexibility has also played a part in the 24-year-old's downfall after failing to carry out Mourinho's core instructions when deployed in an uncharacteristic holding role.
Alexis Sanchez's arrival is only likely to condemn him to that makeshift role for another season.
In that respect, Mourinho must shoulder some responsibility for failing to properly handle another creative talent.
Impatience got the better of him at Chelsea as he was happier to lay waste to Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamed Salah than nurture their abilities.
That the pair evolved into two of the EPL's players of the season is arguably just as reflective of his mismanagement as it is their respective journeys of personal growth.
Pogba could also be forgiven for wondering if history is repeating itself after his manager reserved special praise for the less-vaunted members of United's midfield cast. He has been here before, albeit under different circumstances, during Ferguson's tenure.
He may be guilty of being United's most vainglorious player since Cristiano Ronaldo but parallels with the Portuguese's predecessor in the No.7 shirt are now more striking.
Frustration saw Ferguson bomb out David Beckham after the former midfielder's inflated sense of self-worth appeared to place him at odds with both his manager and the club.
On both sides, compromise was conspicuous by its absence.
Mourinho and Pogba must not make that same mistake.