In 2016, Manchester United signed the Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho. The promise was high for a club who has an unprecedented amount of history. And Mourinho knew how to win, receiving titles at Chelsea and Madrid.
The manager went on to sign the celebrity midfielder from Juventus, Paul Pogba for a world-record £89 million. To say the least, the two manifested their relationship and gave hope to a club whose fans have certainly seen brighter days.
In August, with Pogba’s second debut for the club, he shined brilliantly, recording more passes, touches, and shots than any other United player on the pitch.
“The boy is fantastic,” Mourinho said to reporters after the game.
However, only a month later, signs of trouble started to loom when the pair and the club suffered a home defeat to their bitter rivals, Manchester City, by a final of 2-1.
The Liverpool legend, Jamie Carragher would say about Pogba’s performance after the game, “The performance of Paul Pogba: It was ill-disciplined. He was like a kid in the schoolyard, running where he wants and doing what he wants.”
Pogba would go on to shine every once in a little while. Showing glimpses of why he was the most expensive football player on earth, but the critics and the reporters from the British media continued to rage against the French midfielder.
Pogba’s lifestyle can be described as opulent. However, it’s hard to blame the 26-year-old for living lavishly. In 2016, he was making about 15 million GBP a year and he was one of the most famous people in the world. Pogba would show up in a club and there’d be bright lights, flashing cameras swinging around him. The paparazzi loved him because he loved the spotlight.
In early 2017, Mourinho continued to defend Pogba, telling the press, “It probably comes from envy, but for me, Paul Pogba was by far the best player on the pitch. He was a giant on the pitch.” Mourinho’s relationship with Pogba was still intact and on good terms by the beginning of the player’s second-year campaign. But after a nice start, Pogba suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him into December and once he returned, Pogba was not at the level that Man Utd. paid him to be.
Problems continued to emerge into 2018, as Pogba was benched for the first-leg champions league clash with Sevilla. By March 2018, according to, The Sun, “Pogba and Mourinho are ‘barely on speaking terms’ and are instead communicating through assistant manager Rui Faria, amid reports he could be sold in the summer.” For a player and a coach to not speak to each other is abysmal for a Football club. Man United was in crumbles and that is the way they left their 2018 campaign having barely snatched a ticket to the Champions League, by nudging into fourth place.
In the Summer of ‘18, the World Cup began. Pogba controlled the midfield and shined brilliantly and France came out as champions having beat Croatia–the Cinderella story of the tournament. There was hope in the Man Utd fan base that after what the resiliency and masterful class that Pogba has displayed that it would translate into the Premier League.
The first game was against Leicester City. Manchester Utd won and Pogba picked up a goal. Then they lost the next two games. One of which was a thrashing taken on by the Spurs to beat the Red Devils in their own backyard by a score of 3-0. Mourinho’s relationship with Pogba was still icy, but the manager’s problem wasn’t just the French player. The fan base took a disliking on him and pretty soon other players and members of the organization followed the trend. And on December 18, 2018, having won just 7 of their first 17 league games, Jose Mourinho was sacked and Pogba took onto social media, trolling of his former coach with a ‘caption this’ post.
Along game Ole. Ole Gunnar Solskjær became the interim head coach for Manchester United following Mourinho’s exit. Pogba came back to life. Solskjær and co. went on a 12 game unbeaten run and won an impressive Champions League knockout series against PSG. The interim head coach then became their permanent head coach.
Unfortunately, Manchester United didn’t keep up the momentum and looked rather unimpressive during their last few games of the 2018-2019 Premier League campaign and ended up in 6th place and securing a spot in the Europa League. Perhaps this is where Manchester United need to be at the moment. They need to prove to themselves that they can once again become the dominant powerhouse and European giants that everyone knew they are back with the likes of Beckham, Rooney, Scholes, and others.
The question remains of what Solskjaer is going to do in the summer, but one thing is certain. Transfers are going to happen, players are going to leave, and changes are going to be made. Whether Pogba is leaving or not, remains unclear. But he needs to reemerge next season as the standout player we saw back in 2016 and in Russia during the 2018 world cup.