EPL

Manchester City v Manchester United: Can Pogba revisit derby-day heroics?

By Sports Desk November 09, 2018

Paul Pogba was the star of the show in the last Manchester derby as his quick-fire double provided the catalyst for a remarkable turnaround.

Manchester United had fallen 2-0 behind at the Etihad Stadium and were primed to be reluctant guests at City's title-winning party, but the Frenchman's second-half brace changed all that.

After Chris Smalling converted to complete an incredible 3-2 away win, both United and Pogba had salvaged some pride from a season in which City ultimately claimed the bragging rights. 

But it was an exception to the rule, not only in terms of City's new-found supremacy, but also in Pogba's tumultuous second coming at United.

Ahead of this Sunday's showdown between the bitter rivals, we track some of the key highs and lows of Pogba's Red Devils story since that last derby tussle in April. 

Mourinho demands consistency

Immediately after that two-goal showing, Pogba was left in no doubt that he would have to produce the goods on a more regular basis to win over Jose Mourinho.

"I don't expect you to be man of the match every week, I don't expect you to score two goals every week. But I expect you to be consistent," said the Portuguese.

"So, if you ask me if I'm expecting Paul now to be man of the match every week? No. If I expect him to score goals every match? No.

"But I expect Paul – and I think that's the challenge he has to put to himself – to keep a certain stability and not to have the good match and the so-so match and the bad match.

"I think he has to try to keep that level of stability, and from that stability of course will appear the special match with the special performance like it happened against City."

In his 17 Premier League outings since then, Pogba has scored four goals.

 

I'm judged differently to others – Pogba

Later that month, having been substituted in consecutive top-flight games, including a 1-0 home loss to West Brom, Pogba suggested he was "judged differently".

"It is quite funny. I think I am judged differently," the France international told Sky Sports. "We judge me on assists and goals, we don't judge me on the midfield part.

"I can make an outstanding game, but if I don't score or make an assist they will say, 'that is normal', or whatever.

"But if someone else does it, it is different. They will maybe be man of the match. It makes me improve as well, it is a challenge for me and I take it in a good way.

"I'll try to score and make assists and that's it. I still want to do my job in midfield.

"If I can help the team in attack and defence and make a difference I will do it. If I can score and assist it is even better."

Pogba scored in the very next game, a 2-1 win over Arsenal.

 

PSG? Maybe one day – Pogba

After the season had ended in FA Cup final disappointment, pictures emerged of Pogba taking part in a photoshoot at the Eiffel Tower, prompting speculation that he could be weighing up a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Although Pogba said no such move was imminent, he did not rule it out altogether.

"My presence at the Eiffel Tower has nothing to do with PSG," Pogba told Canal+. "Why not one day tread the lawn of the Parc des Princes? It's a beautiful stadium.

"I cannot look far. I'm sure, contractually, to stay at Manchester United."

 

Pogba reveals 'issues' with Mourinho

When Pogba undertook media conference duties while with France at the World Cup, he shunned the conventional wisdom of skirting around questions about his club.

Indeed, he went as far as to reveal he had "issues with Mourinho", hinting at a fractious relationship between the pair. 

"This year was a better season than last year as I was more decisive," he said.

"It's also true that I had a big injury. It's experience. There were little issues with Mourinho, but they were nothing.

"These are things that make you grow. I never had a season where I was pushed aside, or they put me on the bench.

"It is also the choice of the coach, it's his job, I must accept, as I always said, the only answer is on the pitch."

 

Pogba has to give his best for United – Mourinho calls for focus

Having returned from Russia as a World Cup winner, Pogba might have expected to be in credit with Mourinho.

Instead, Pogba's exertions on the international stage only gave his club boss cause to suggest he ought to be doing more for his employers. 

"I don't think it's about us getting the best out of him, it's about him giving the best he has to give," Mourinho told ESPN FC.

"I think the World Cup is the perfect habitat for a player like him to give [their] best.

"Why? Because it's closed for a month, where he can only think about football. Where he's with his team on the training camp, completely isolated from the external world, where they focus just on football, where the dimensions of the game can only motivate.

"During a season, you can have a big match then a smaller match, then one even smaller, then you can lose your focus, you can lose your concentration, then comes a big match again."

 

Pogba 'the monster' flourishes as skipper

Once the time for talking was over, Pogba was handed the captain's armband when the 2018-19 Premier League season began.

He duly scored within three minutes and played all but the closing stages of the contest despite his energy-sapping off-season exploits.

"Pogba was a monster," said Mourinho. "We thought maximum 60 minutes but he managed over 80.

"The decision belonged to Paul. I asked him and he made himself available and he was very good."

 

There are things that I cannot say, otherwise I will get fined – Pogba

Pogba's own words were somewhat less conciliatory and rather more revealing, hinting very strongly at some significant unrest. 

"There are things I can say and there are things that I cannot say, otherwise I will get fined," he said

"When people trust you and have confidence then you are good in your own head, it's going to be easier."

 

Pogba vague on Man United future

When questioned over his future in September, providing a platform to express his commitment to United, Pogba was hardly emphatic. 

"There was a lot of talk, but it was just like that, I'm under contract in Manchester," the 25-year-old told German outlet Sky Sport.

"My future is currently in Manchester, I still have a contract, I'm playing there at the moment, but who knows what will happen in the next few months.

"We have a pure coach-player relationship, that's right. One thing I can assure you: I will always give 100 per cent, no matter which coach I always give everything for United – I cannot say more."

 

Mourinho and Pogba in frosty training ground exchange

Things between Pogba and Mourinho appeared to hit a new low in late September, when the pair had a frosty exchange on the training ground.

Pogba had been stripped of the vice-captaincy and the pair's evidently heated verbal exchange was captured on camera.

"He's a player like the others," said Mourinho. "No player is bigger than the club and if I'm happy with his work he plays, if I'm not happy he doesn't play."

In recent days, things appeared to have calmed down, with Pogba insisting any adjustments to his formal responsibilities had no bearing on his mood.

"If he takes the armband away, it doesn't change anything," said Pogba ahead of United's victory at Juventus in the Champions League.

"I just want to play, perform and give my best. It didn't affect me."

The world awaits the next chapter in this ongoing saga...

Related items

  • Important Pogba and Shakhtar's brilliant Brazilians – Champions League in Opta numbers Important Pogba and Shakhtar's brilliant Brazilians – Champions League in Opta numbers

    Manchester City will look to secure top spot in Group F as the Champions League group stage ends on Wednesday, with Manchester United and Juventus also jostling for position in Group H.

    Most of the placings in Groups E through to H have already been decided but Lyon are among the teams scrambling to finish in the top two, while Europa League spots are also on the line.

    United boss Jose Mourinho has already confirmed Paul Pogba will face Valencia after a spell where the midfielder has been in and out of the team, the France star having been influential in their Champions League campaign.

    Here, we assess all eight games on Wednesday's schedule with the use of Opta numbers as the group stage is wrapped up ahead of Christmas.

     

    Real Madrid v CSKA Moscow

    33 - Madrid have failed to score in only one of their last 33 Champions League matches - but that was when they lost 1-0 to CSKA this season.

    7 - Gareth Bale has been involved in seven goals in his last five Champions League appearances; scoring five and assisting two more.

    Viktoria Plzen v Roma

    17 - Plzen have only ever kept one clean sheet in their 17 Champions League matches – this coming in a 1-0 away win over BATE in November 2011.

    15 - Edin Dzeko has scored 15 Champions League goals for Roma; just two off Francesco Totti's club record (17). The Bosnian has five goals in four outings in the competition this season.


    Ajax v Bayern Munich

    20 - Ajax have lost just one of their last 20 European home matches (W13 D6 L1), winning all five of their games in Amsterdam in 2018-19.

    31 - Arjen Robben (31 goals) is now the outright second top scoring Dutch player in Champions League history behind Ruud van Nistelrooy (56), having moved ahead of Roy Makaay and Patrick Kluivert (both 29).

    Benfica v AEK Athens

    8 - AEK have failed to score in eight of their 11 away matches in European competition since the start of 2016-17.

    4 - Since the beginning of last season, Benfica have won just four points from a possible 33 in the Champions League group stage (W1 D1 L9).


    Manchester City v Hoffenheim

    4 - Riyad Mahrez has assisted more goals (four) than any other player in the Champions League this season, setting up a team-mate once every 75 minutes.

    42 - There have already been 42 goals scored in this group so far; the most for any group in Champions League history is 51, set by Group F, comprising Borussia Dortmund, Madrid, Legia Warsaw and Sporting CP, in 2016-17.

    Shakhtar Donetsk v Lyon

    13 - Brazilian players have had 13 goal involvements in Shakhtar's seven Champions League goals so far this season (seven goals, six assists); more than any other team in the competition this season.

    3 - Houssem Aouar and Memphis Depay have assisted three goals in the Champions League this season. The last Lyon player to assist four or more goals during the group stages was Juninho Pernambucano in 2006-07 (five).


    Valencia v Manchester United

    60 -  Pogba has been directly involved in 60 per cent (three out of five) of United's away goals in the Champions League this season (two goals and one assist).

    6 - Valencia have failed to score in six of their last eight games in the Champions League, including last time out against Juventus (1-0).


    Young Boys v Juventus

    46 - Juve head coach Massimiliano Allegri has seen his side return a clean sheet in 46 per cent of his Champions League games (37/81) – only Diego Simeone (54 per cent) and Fabio Capello (48 per cent) have a better rate among managers with over 50 games in the competition.

    2 - Young Boys have the worst shot conversion rate of any side in the Champions League this season (3.1) – just two of their 64 shots have resulted in goals.

  • From George Cross to Arsenal – Montemurro's rise to make Gunners great again From George Cross to Arsenal – Montemurro's rise to make Gunners great again

    From the humble surroundings of Chaplin Reserve in Sunshine, to the state-of-the-art facilities at world powerhouse Arsenal – Joe Montemurro's journey is one of perseverance.

    It was March 2006. Sunshine George Cross had just sacked Chris Taylor, who orchestrated the club's re-emergence from the depths of Victoria's third-tier to the top division in consecutive seasons.

    George Cross turned to unproven 37-year-old Montemurro amid the serious threat of relegation. The former Australian midfielder, who ended his playing career at 28, had never held a senior coaching role previously.

    Eyebrows were raised but the gamble paid off. Around 1,000 spectators were in attendance to witness debutant Montemurro mastermind a shock victory over Australian giants and 2000 Club World Cup participants South Melbourne as George Cross went on to narrowly avoid the drop.

    "You always have aspirations to be the best and do what you can, perform and challenge," Montemurro told Perform. "I probably wasn't thinking any further than winning the next game at George Cross at that time.

    "But I take a lot of those experiences as major milestones because you learn a lot through difficult circumstances and situations to be the best. They were all important milestones and stepping stones to be where I am now."

    Montemurro's stay in Sunshine was brief, moving to Hume City and South Melbourne in various capacities before switching to women's football and joining Melbourne Victory and then Melbourne City, where he delivered back-to-back W-League championships and also worked as an assistant to the men's A-League team.

    He created history in 2015-16 after City went through the entire season without dropping a point. His work did not go unnoticed and he was eventually lured to the bright lights of London and Arsenal's women's team the following year.

    "The opportunity to work at one of the biggest clubs and leagues in the world was an amazing honour and privilege," the 49-year-old said. "A lot more history, a lot more clubs and focus. It's great to be at the best and performing with the best. Being challenged everyday with the best at this amazing club."

    Montemurro – who describes himself as a "project coach", his philosophy stemming on building and developing a DNA with his teams – has made an immediate impact at Meadow Park, where Australia's export is leading a revival of one of football's most prestigious names.

    Arsenal's women were sixth and on the decline when Montemurro arrived but the Gunners are now top of the Women's Super League with nine wins from 10 matches and a competition-high 42 goals in his first full season at the helm.

    Montemurro, who signed a new long-term contract in October, has also delivered the WSL Continental Cup and Toulouse International Ladies Cup to go with a FA Women's Cup runners-up medal.

    "Obviously the results are saying what they're saying," Montemurro continued. "The important thing is we're starting to play our football and show our style which is very important at this iconic club that wants to play a good brand of football.

    "The biggest thing is to make the Champions League. That's the most important thing. But not just make Champions League, we want to get there and sustain a spot every year. Be competing in the top two every year, obviously producing players and continue to play the football we're playing."

  • Klopp 'would have paid double' for Alisson Klopp 'would have paid double' for Alisson

    Jurgen Klopp would have paid double for Alisson if he knew just how good the goalkeeper was, he said after the Liverpool shot-stopper's heroics on Tuesday.

SportsMax Zone

Latest Tweets

#VanDijk says he's ready to show why #Liverpool deserves to be in the #ChampionsLeague ⚽! Watch the #Liverpool mat… https://t.co/xK903VWzLS
The Universe Boss heading home for mom's funeral https://t.co/ldjn1bOyUo https://t.co/JQKKzY0Dgo
Can the Windies use this victory as inspiration for the remainder of the series? https://t.co/6jJXRLKGAs https://t.co/9hlCaNqD11
Follow SportsMax on Twitter
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.