Paul Pogba says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival as interim manager at Manchester United has not only sparked his return to form but also put a smile back on his face.
The 26-year-old — an integral figure in France’s 2018 World Cup triumph — has shown the sort of form that United paid a club record £89m in 2016 since Solskjaer arrived in December to replace the sacked Jose Mourinho.
Pogba’s relationship with the volatile Mourinho had been pretty much toxic all season — having already degenerated in the previous campaign — and he found himself relegated to the substitutes bench.
“Before the coach [Solskjaer] arrived I was in the shadows, on the bench, and I accepted that,” he said after the impressive 1-0 win over Tottenham on Sunday.
“It is a pleasure to play again. Now I am always smiling.”
Solskjaer, who The Sun reported on Tuesday is in pole position to get the job permanently as he has impressed the board and has the unanimous support of the players, has won six from six since his arrival.
Pogba, who had been linked with a move away if Mourinho had stayed, says a lot of that can be put down to the fact Solskjaer knows the club inside out having played for them and then been on the coaching staff.
Pogba was at United in his first spell at the club in 2010 when he first encountered Solskjaer, who had moved on from playing to become reserve team coach.
“It ’s a pleasure to be reunited with him,” said Pogba.
“I knew him from the academy and the reserves, when his nickname was ‘Supersub’.
“He is doing a really good job. As a player he knew the mentality of this club. He has come back to help us and it is going very well.”
● Gabriel Jesus says his confidence has soared after his recent goal glut, vowing that Manchester City will not let up in their pursuit of Premier League leaders Liverpool.
The Brazil striker scored another two, taking his tally to seven in three appearances, as City beat Wolves 3-0 on Monday to cut Liverpool’s lead back to four points.
The 21-year-old, who has now 14 goals for the season, said: “I am feeling good and my confidence is better for scoring goals. It ’s important to me because I am a striker who plays for a big club with amazing players.
“We believe in every single game and every competition. We are training and working a lot [until] they give out the title at the end of the season. We are second in the Premier League and want to win it.”