Jose Mourinho delivered a withering attack on Paul Pogba in front of his fellow Manchester United players after the 2-2 draw with Southampton.
It is understood that the United manager compared Pogba to a “virus” and claimed he had shown a complete lack of “respect” to his team-mates and the club’s supporters.
“You don’t play,” Mourinho is alleged to have told Pogba. “You don’t respect players and supporters. And you kill the mentality of the good honest people around you.
“You are like a person with a flu, with a virus in a closed room – you pass that virus to the others.”
It is understood that Mourinho was particularly angered by one second-half incident at Southampton, which saw Pogba lose possession to Nathan Redmond midway through his own half and then fail to track back. It resulted in Redmond firing off a long-range shot which was palmed over by United goalkeeper David de Gea.
Mourinho and Pogba have had a volatile relationship since the player’s move back to Old Trafford for a then world record £89million in 2016.
Earlier this season, the France international was stripped of the vice-captaincy after he informed Mourinho he wanted to leave, while the player has also been critical of Mourinhio’s tactics. Pogba is effectively gagged from speaking to newspaper journalists after matches in the wake of his comments.
Pogba has also struggled for form, and his performance at St Mary’s – where United came from 2-0 down to claim a point, which still leaves them nine points off the Champions League – was widely criticised.
Former United defender Phil Neville was particularly vehement in his assessment, and said Mourinho would have been within his rights to denounce him publicly after the game.
“You watch Pogba today, I’m sorry, if [Mourinho] had done an interview after the game and said, ‘Oh, Paul Pogba was fantastic’, that’s a lie. He wasn’t fantastic. He was sloppy, he caused United problems. Deal with it.”
Mourinho was critical of United’s performance in general at Southampton, and in particular their sloppiness in midfield. but chose not to single out individuals.
He said: “We lost so many balls in midfield, we lost so many balls in our transition to the last third, it was difficult to have that continuity.
“What we did so well in the last 15, 20 minutes of the first half, which was to connect with the attacking players by transporting the ball, leaving the ball in the right moment, the right choice of pass, playing simple, accelerate the game.
“In the second half we went back again to that dynamic where we lose too many balls midfield. And when the players don’t understand that simplicity is genius, especially in some parts of the pitch, and they keep and keep and keep in going to complicated football it’s difficult to have that continuity.”