Jose Mourinho was at pains to point out that he wanted his Manchester United players to sacrifice for their team after Sunday’s 1-3 win over Swansea City. The Portuguese suggested that he needed players who were willing to play despite carrying knocks, or not being 100%, which certainly threw criticism in the directions of Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, both of whom made themselves unavailable for selection this weekend due to knocks. Both England internationals were said to be ‘baffled’ by their manager’s words, having been reportedly using pain-killing injections to get through games at points this season.
One player that played through the pain at the Liberty Stadium, and presumably gathered even more favour with his manager was Paul Pogba. The Frenchman scored an exquisite half-volley in the first half to open the scoring before Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s brace gave United total control of proceedings.
Speaking to MUTV after the game, Pogba was full of praise for his team’s first half performance:
“I think every player wanted to win this game and everyone was focused. We gave it our best and gave everything, the first half was unbelievable. It was one of the best first-half performances so far and that’s how we have to play, we have to give everything, we have to press all together and when we play together we play like that.” ( Quote via espn ).
Pogba also mentioned that he had been playing with an injury. The Frenchman had to be removed during the first half of United’s 2-1 defeat to Fenerbahce in Turkey on Thursday night, and there were doubts over whether the former Juventus midfielder would be fit for the Premier League clash.
Speaking on the injury, Pogba said: “It is not gone. It’s still here. I was fit enough to play and after the gaffer put me in I played and I give my best every time.”
Hopefully Pogba doesn’t aggravate the injury while on national team duty with France. United can’t afford not to have him fit for the Arsenal clash.
Given that Mourinho has clearly got some issues within the United dressing room regarding how willing his players are to play for him and their club, it will be particularly gratifying for the former Chelsea boss that his club’s record signing has little in the way of a mental block when it comes to playing for United. Pogba has notched four goals since his summer move, and has been steadily improving the quality of his performances over the last month or so; Mourinho will be hoping that this is a trend which continues.