When the dust had settled following France’s World Cup win in 2018, former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho tried to explain why Paul Pogba plays better for his national team.
Pogba, who will depart Old Trafford at the end of his contract in June, has frequently professed his desire to play for France under Didier Deschamps.
Back in 2020, the midfielder stated that playing for France is a breath of new air. “This is a period, the kind of which I have never experienced in my career,” he told RTL.
“The French national team is a breath of fresh air. We are very happy to come here and all very happy to see each other again. It is not the same as with the club. We all group together, it is magical.
“We realise that everyone is happy to come and that makes a difference.”
Jose Mourinho, who handled the midfielder throughout his time at Old Trafford, shared his thoughts on the significant difference between Paul Pogba of Manchester United and Paul Pogba of France four years ago.
That interview is available to view below. Is he correct?
Throwback to Jose Mourinho explaining the difference between Paul Pogba at Man United and France after the last World Cup 👀 pic.twitter.com/s3JQucRExj
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 16, 2020
Mourinho began: “I don’t think it’s about getting the best out of him, it’s about giving the best he has to give. And I think the World Cup is the perfect habitat for a player like him to give the best.
“Why? Because he’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 he can focus just on football, where the dimensions of the games can only motivate.
“Because during a season you can have a big match, then a small match, then one even smaller, then you can lose your focus, you can lose your concentration, then comes a big match again. In the World Cup, the direction of the emotion, of the responsibility, of the big decisions is always growing up.”
He added: “You are in the group phase, you go to the last-16, to the quarter-finals, to the semi-finals and to the final. This feeds the motivation, this feeds the concentration of a player. So, I think it was the perfect environment for him.
“At the same time, I think players in the World Cup really feel that extra commitment with the country, with the people, that extra responsibility. That makes them by the emotional point of view, to be sometimes even over committed.
“So, they play for the team and only for the team and the team is the most important thing and they do everything to try to succeed. So, I think it’s the perfect environment for a talented player like him to focus, to fully focus on the job.”
ast year, Paul Pogba said he has “more freedom” to play when pulling on the France shirt compared to his outings for Manchester United, where he had more defensive responsibilities.
“It’s true that at Juventus it was different from Manchester,” he told L’Equipe. “We were playing three in the middle, in a 5-3-2. I had the freedom, I had to be in the box, to attack. It was an obligation.
“In Manchester, I have the freedom to go into the box, but the priority is to play, to defend.
“In the France team, we play a 4-2-3-1 too. I’m a little more involved in the transition, in the construction. But I have more freedom than in Manchester to get into the box, to make runs forward.
“At the same time, when you have Grizou [Antoine Griezmann], Kylian [Mbappe], you don’t want to enter their spaces, you don’t need to.
“I would like to play more offensively,” he added. “Scoring 15 goals per season, that’s what I would like.”
Featured Image Credit: ESPN/Alamy