Jose Mourinho launched scathing attacks on Paul Pogba in the United dressing room and right in front of his teammates after their 2-2 draw with Southhampton.
The Manchester United manager reportedly compared Pogba to a “virus” and claimed he had shown a complete lack of “respect” to his team-mates and the club’s supporters.
“You don’t play,” Mourinho is alleged to have told Pogba. “You don’t respect players and supporters. And you kill the mentality of the good honest people around you.
“You are like a person with a flu, with a virus in a closed room – you pass that virus to the others.”
Mourinho was particularly angered by one second-half incident during the match where Pogba lost possession to Nathan Redmond midway through his own half and then failed to track back as Redmond fired a long-range shot which was parried over by United goalkeeper David de Gea.
Mourinho and Pogba have endured a strained relationship since the Frenchman’s move back to Old Trafford for £89million in the summer of 2016.
Earlier this season, the France international was stripped of the vice-captaincy after he informed Mourinho he wanted to leave, while the World Cup winner had also been critical of Mourinho’s tactics.
Pogba was then barred from speaking to journalists after matches in the wake of his comments.
Pogba has also struggled with his form, and his performance at St Mary’s – where United came from 2-0 down to claim a point, which still leaves them nine points off the Champions League – was widely criticised.
Former United defender Phil Neville was also critical of Pogba in his post-match analysis on TV
“You watch Pogba today, I’m sorry, if [Mourinho] had done an interview after the game and said, ‘Oh, Paul Pogba was fantastic’, that’s a lie. He wasn’t fantastic. He was sloppy, he caused United problems. Deal with it.”
At his own post-match interview, Mourinho was critical of United’s performance in general at Southampton, and in particular their sloppiness in midfield but chose not to single out individuals.
He said: “We lost so many balls in midfield, we lost so many balls in our transition to the last third, it was difficult to have that continuity.
“What we did so well in the last 15, 20 minutes of the first half, which was to connect with the attacking players by transporting the ball, leaving the ball in the right moment, the right choice of pass, playing simple, accelerate the game.
“In the second half, we went back again to that dynamic where we lose too many balls midfield. And when the players don’t understand that simplicity is genius, especially in some parts of the pitch, and they keep and keep and keep in going to complicated football, it’s difficult to have that continuity”.
“The second goal was a direct free-kick and the first goal was because we don’t press enough the ball when our block is low, which is something that we do wrong,” Mourinho said.
“Doesn’t matter the system we play, has to do with the characteristics of the players. We don’t have many – with all the respect, hope people understand what I mean – we don’t have many ‘mad dogs’. The ones that bite the ball all the time and press all the time, we don’t have many people with that spirit so nothing to do with the system.”
Going into the specifics, Mourinho continued “I thought Scott (McTominay) and (Nemanja) Matic, they did a very positive job for two midfield players (playing in defence), and Phil Jones leads that group of three in a way that we were totally in control. I would say the only problem that we had was that the two attacking players didn’t have enough continuity because in midfield we lost too many balls.
“But good spirit, good fight, good comeback from 0-2 to 2-2. Great examples of players fighting until the limits where probably I would say as positive examples, Marcus Rashford, Phil Jones, of course, many others showing that respect for our shirt, that respect for the club. I think it was not the result that we want, but a performance that, apart of that interruptions we had in our attacking waves from midfield – apart of that – I think had positive sense.”