Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF /
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes he deserves credit for not complaining more about Paul Pogba’s injury problems and those affecting the rest of his squad.
France midfielder Pogba has been absent for almost two months because of a hamstring injury sustained during a 3-0 Champions League victory over Basel on September 12.
Five other players — Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard — are currently sidelined and Mourinho says their absences should be taken into account.
“You know, I think it’s my fault because I should cry every week about our injuries and remind everybody, day after day or press conference after press conference,” he said.
“It’s my way of dealing with problems. It’s my way of trying to motivate and respect and give confidence to the players that are going to replace those people.
“But maybe I have to reconsider my profile. I know that I moan with a lot of things, but I don’t do with the injuries and probably I should.
“I think any other manager would be speaking about Pogba every day. ‘Oh, I don’t have Pogba. Oh, when will I have Pogba?’
“‘Oh, 10 matches without Pogba. Oh, all the Champions League group phase without Pogba. Oh, all the big matches — against Liverpool, against Chelsea, against Spurs — without Pogba. Oh.’
“I don’t speak about Pogba one single time. It’s only when you ask me about his situation.
“And it’s not just Pogba. It’s Pogba, it’s Fellaini, it’s Carrick, it’s Ibra, it’s Marcos Rojo. It’s a big group of players. So yes, I think we are doing very, very well.”
Mourinho has repeatedly refused to predict when Pogba might be fit again.
The former Juventus midfielder returned to United’s Carrington training headquarters just over a week ago after spending time rehabilitating in Miami.
– ‘Just a normal guy’ –
United are five points below Premier League leaders Manchester City ahead of their trip to champions Chelsea on Sunday.
Mourinho’s preparations for the match against his former club were disrupted by the fact he had to travel to Madrid on Friday to settle a tax case with the Spanish authorities.
United’s trips to Stamford Bridge have become fraught affairs since Mourinho joined United in May 2016, but he says he is still popular with Chelsea’s supporters.
The United manager is one of the most significant figures in Chelsea history, having ended the west London club’s 50-year wait for a league title in 2005 at the end of his first season as their manager.
He won the Premier League again with them the following season before leaving in 2007 and then, after returning in 2013, secured the title for a third time two years later.
However, his two visits with United last season attracted controversy.
He had a touchline confrontation with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after a 4-0 league defeat last October and United’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals in March was a bad-tempered affair.
Mourinho regularly bumps into Chelsea supporters as he still has his family home in Knightsbridge, a couple of miles from their ground, and says he is still warmly welcomed by them.
“I walk down the street and outside the football heat, outside the football environment, I see so many Chelsea fans, especially in the area where I live,” Mourinho said.
“I see so many Chelsea supporters and I didn’t have one single one that wasn’t nice.
“What happened in the football stadium was a different thing. When I walk in the street in London, I am just a normal guy.
“When I go to Stamford Bridge and sit in that dugout, on the right side of the tunnel, I am the manager of their opponents, so I accept every possible reaction with the utmost respect.”