Jose Mourinho mocked the media’s perception of Paul Pogba’s recent form as he playfully suggested the Frenchman’s starring role in Manchester United’s 4-1 win over Fenerbahce saw him shake off the “worst player of the Premier League” tag.
Pogba scored twice as United comfortably dispatched Fenerbahce in the Europa League, with his second an exquisite first-time strike into the top-left corner from 25 yards.
Robin van Persie netted a late consolation on his return to Old Trafford, but the match was already won and Mourinho reflected on Pogba’s solid midfield display in the wake of individual criticism he attracted with a poor showing in Monday’s 0-0 draw at Liverpool.
“Two days ago he was the worst player of the Premier League and 48 hours later he is phenomenal,” Mourinho said to BT Sport. “Listen, he needs time.
“I was in Italy, I have worked in Italy. I know the pace, intensity and characteristics of the league well.
“To be in Italy for four, five years and then come back to the Premier League is not easy. I was not expecting him to adapt with click of the fingers.
“Even top players need time.”
United stepped off the gas a little once Jesse Lingard put them 4-0 up just after the break and, although Mourinho was frustrated by that, he acknowledged it was an understandable repercussion of making numerous changes to the team.
The United boss said: “They [Fenerbahce] came with a good defensive plan and stopped us for the first periods of the game but then the first two goals – two clear penalties – opened the door for quality and I think we played well for periods.
“With four goals we stopped which is natural and then they try to have a reaction. I’m never happy to concede a goal, especially if the goal is not a perfect one.
“It came down to a lack of concentration, but that is the nature of the players and the nature of lots of changes. That’s acceptable.
“The important thing is that we now have six points.”