Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba revealed his relief at preventing local rivals Manchester City from sealing the Premier League title on Saturday, claiming watching City celebrate would have been “like a death” for United fans.
Pogba shrugged off a turbulent season and speculation over his future by scoring twice in as many minutes just after half-time to spearhead a stunning United comeback that was completed by Chris Smalling 21 minutes from time.
Victory for City would have seen Pep Guardiola’s men crowned as champions and take a United record in the process by winning the title with six games to spare.
“If they won they are champions, for all the fans, it would be like death,” said the Frenchman.
“To lose against City and to see them celebrate, I couldn’t let that happen. At halftime in the dressing room, we said we have nothing to lose.”
Barring an incredible collapse, City will still win the league in the coming weeks as the hold a 13-point lead over second-placed United.
However, Pogba issued a rallying cry for United to win back the battle for supremacy in Manchester next season.
“After a second half like this, we have to do that all the time. If we did, we would be up there with City, and maybe even in front.”
Guardiola added more spice to an already hotly-anticipated clash when he claimed on Friday he had been offered the chance to buy Pogba two months ago by the player’s agent Mino Raiola.
Pogba has often been dropped by United manager Jose Mourinho for the biggest games this season, despite costing the club a then world record £89 million when he returned to United from Juventus in 2016.
However, restored in his favourite position on the left of a midfield three, Pogba showed why he was once one of the most in-demand players in the world.
“With City they love to attack, they don’t like to defend, so I had to get more in the box. I knew I had Nemanja Matic behind me and Ander Herrera with me.”
Mourinho has been stinging in his criticism of Pogba at times during the campaign, but hailed his contribution to a famous victory.
“Two goals from a midfield player in a big match like this one stays in the memory of the people, especially for the fans,” said Mourinho.
“He needs that confidence because he knows, I know, everybody knows he had some performances not at the level we expect from Paul. But he is improving.”