Former Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has given his verdict on why the relationship between Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho broke down towards the manager’s last days at the club, saying that the pair never had ‘confidence’ in each other.
Mourinho’s departure last month preceded a pronounced upswing in the midfielder’s form, as he has since shone under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, having been dropped to the bench for the Portuguese boss’ final days in charge.
There had been public disputes between the two earlier in the season, and Zlatan, who played alongside Pogba for around 18 months before leaving for LA Galaxy, has weighed in with a balanced take on why they didn’t see eye-to-eye.
“There are these players that need to be free, they need to feel free to do what they are able to do under the disciple of the coach,” said the 37-year-old, via ESPN.
“Obviously, he has his tactics, he has that, but some players they go above these limits, and you need to let them be free, and I think Paul is one of them.
“Paul didn’t feel confidence from the coach, and the coach didn’t feel confidence for Paul. It’s difficult to perform as a player if you don’t have confidence from the coach and you don’t have that energy, that motivation, and Jose felt the same thing about Paul.
“These things happen, and that is part of the game also; I mean, not everybody can go among each other and do well together.
“I feel like you come to a moment where it is too blocked and one goes or the other one goes. At this moment, the coach left, and Paul is more free now.”
United have won seven straight matches since Mourinho departed, including the 2-1 win over Brighton at the weekend, with Pogba playing a central role in a more advanced midfield role than he had enjoyed at the club previously.
Zlatan added, however, that his success is more due to his rejuvenated mental state than any tactical differences.
“We are seeing a more happy Paul, more free Paul, more ‘do whatever you want to do,’ and he is succeeding with things now.
“It’s like new energy, new blood came in, and now he is playing like he knows how to play. And we know who Pogba is, and this is the Pogba we are seeing.”