Jose Mourinho vs Paul Pogba: Who blinks first?
Jose Mourinho is a winner. The Portuguese has won top-flight titles at every club he has ever managed; until now... Manchester United were expecting the self-proclaimed Special One to continue that trend. Now, the Red Devils look to be in trouble. You better believe it, Mourinho third-season syndrome is a real thing.
Imagine my surprise (not really) when a manager who constantly falls out with his star players had a differing opinion to Paul Pogba. We're talking about two big personalities. When things at Old Trafford started going downhill, sparks were always going to fly between the pair.
Although we're not exactly sure what the issue is. There is a major problem brewing. For Mourinho, as soon as you lose the dressing room, it's curtains. Pogba's probably the most important player within that current squad. We all know the 55-year-old loves a risk. This could well be career suicide.
That leads me to my next point. Mourinho knows he has to keep Pogba happy. Handing him the captain's armband in Antonio Valencia's absence was certainly a step in the right direction. I cannot help but feel, though, that the Frenchman knows it was a privilege handed to him as an act of pure desperation. The 25-year-old holds all the cards.
With that said, without Mourinho at United, there was no Pogba return. The player knew exactly what he was getting himself into when he chose to move back 'home'. The ex-Chelsea manager's style or mantra hasn't changed throughout his career. What did he expect? Swashbuckling, attack-minded football? If that's the case. The only word that I can use to describe the midfielder would be naive.
FC Barcelona have been sniffing around United's #6. I cannot blame the player for being interested in the move. Heck, who wouldn't want to become a perennial title winner? That's the stuff you dream about as a young man.
Equally, though, the Red Devils should be doing all they can to pour cold water on any potential Pogba switch away. For all his faults and inconsistencies, he holds the key to unlocking this team's full potential. That, is why I think it'll be Mourinho who'll be out the door first. United are a money-making machine. Pogba is their prized cash-cow.
Player power in football is stronger than ever before. Pogba is up there amongst the most marketable superstars in this current generation. Adidas sponsorships, funny dance moves that kids idolise, while always playing the game with a smile on his face, in a manner than the modern-day supporter absolutely adores. It used to always be the manager who holds all the cards. That's no longer the case in an ever-changing society.
Mourinho's not helped by the fact that his style is so dull. It's all well and good when you're winning. But when you're not, the pressure only increases. Take the Brighton game for example. For any other top-level Premier League side, that'd be put down to a typical early season loss. At United, under Mourinho, it has already been blown way out of proportion. This article is the perfect example of that.
For now, I think both need to find a way to at least tolerate each other. They have common interests. They want the same thing. Let's just see how this next twelve months pans out. It's pretty obvious all isn't well. Let's re-assess the situation at season's end...