Jose Mourinho says Alex Ferguson and Manchester United have been unfairly criticised for allowing Paul Pogba to leave the club for Juventus in 2012.
The France international departed Old Trafford seeking more first-team opportunities when his contract expired four years ago, before sealing a return this month in a world-record £89million deal.
Pogba is set to make his second United debut on Friday, with Mourinho’s men hosting Southampton in the Premier League.
The Portuguese is delighted to have the 23-year-old to call upon, but thinks Ferguson did everything he could to prevent him from leaving in the first place.
Mourinho said: “I didn’t know him at that time. What I know is that the club tried everything to keep him, so sometimes people are a bit unfair about it.
“I know the club did everything, Sir Alex did everything, but sometimes between players, families and agents they have different decisions.
“But the reality is that he is only back because he has that positive feeling about the club. There is no way he’d be back with a negative feeling. The feeling and relationship was there.
“You see him here, and you don’t see someone who was out for four years, you see somebody so comfortable with everyone.
“He is not coming back as a big star. He is a big star, but he is not behaving like a big star, he is behaving like he is coming home the same kid as when he left.”
Pogba’s astonishing transfer fee has prompted huge debate in the football world, but Mourinho insists he would have spent £89m of his own money if he could.
The former Chelsea boss said: “I think I would because the market is going in such a direction that what you think is a crazy investment today, a couple years later is not a crazy investment.
“I think people who make football their business do not lose money. They have chances to make money all the time, but that’s not my business.
“My business is to work for a club, to give everything, get my salary every month, and to do the best for the club, the players and fans.
“What I try to advise the club is always what I think is best for the club. Reading Manchester United’s story after Sir Alex’s departure, we all thought that such a giant club needs to change, needs to go again into a positive direction.
“To bring four very good players is better than bringing 15 ordinary players. We made that decision and hopefully results will come.”