Paul Pogba is the biggest name at Manchester United, and Jose Mourinho has battled to recruit other major stars. Photo: Peter Powell/EPA

Often in team sports, the saying goes that “no one is bigger than the team” or the club.

Of course, in most instances, that’s true. But at the moment, it may not apply to the situation involving Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba at Manchester United.

The latest in the ongoing saga is that Mourinho has removed Pogba as “second captain” behind Antonio Valencia, with UK media reports stating that it’s due to the Frenchman’s comments about wanting the team to attack more following the 1-1 draw with Wolves.

Others say that Pogba is now insisting on joining Barcelona, and that Mourinho doesn’t believe that someone who wants to leave Old Trafford should be a leader in the team.

Whatever it is, there is a serious problem, and something has got to give at Manchester United.

The major issue for Mourinho is that, rightly or wrongly, Pogba IS bigger than the club at the moment. He is the biggest name by far in the squad, is in the form of his life, and has just won the World Cup with France.

The Red Devils last won the Premier League in 2012/13, and the Champions League in 2007/08. 

There has been gradual improvement under Mourinho, who won the Europa League in 2016/17, and took United to second in the league and to the FA Cup final last season.

But the reality is that United should be winning Premier League titles and pushing for the Champions League crown too. 

They are still far behind Manchester City, and it looks like Liverpool and Chelsea have gone past them this season too – United are currently seventh on the log.

To be called back a week early by Mourinho from partying on Los Angeles yachts after the biggest season of his career would not have endured the Portuguese manager to the 25-year-old midfielder.

But Pogba showed his commitment by captaining the side and producing an inspirational performance in the opening league win over Leicester City – when he didn’t even have a proper pre-season training regime.

He wants the “shackles” of having to track back in defence removed by Mourinho. Pogba enjoys a virtual free role with the French national team, and it showed in his performances at the World Cup.

So, why does Mourinho not want Pogba to play his natural game? The 55-year-old believes in a pragmatic style of play, which is fine as it has brought him all the success he’s had in his management career.

But when you’ve got a special talent like Paul Pogba in your ranks, and the rest of the team doesn’t really match his level, you’ve got to let him run free.

The question Mourinho needs to ask himself is: Which of the other big names in world football want to join Manchester United right now? Lionel Messi? No. Luka Modric? No. Neymar? No.

Mourinho reportedly tried to sign Kylian Mbappe in the summer, but Paris Saint-Germain rejected the bid, while United also missed out on the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Harry Maguire, Diego Godin and Yerry Mina.

Not even one of Old Trafford’s favourite sons and a Portuguese himself – Cristiano Ronaldo – wanted to return to United and play under Mourinho in the summer, leaving Real Madrid for Juventus instead.

There has been a little bit of an over-reaction to some of United’s results this season – even the League Cup defeat to Derby County on penalties doesn’t really matter in the bigger scheme of things.

Mourinho deserves more time to mould United into a league-winning outfit. But he also needs to nurture his most prized asset – Pogba.

If he is unable or doesn’t to, he needs to leave Pogba go and get a suitable replacement. Otherwise, the United board might lose patience with him very quickly.

 

IOL Sport

Like IOL Sport on Facebook

Follow IOL Sport on Twitter