Pundit Richard Keys has suggested that José Mourinho intentionally sidelined Paul Pogba towards the end of his tenure at Manchester United as part of a strategy to engineer his dismissal.
Mourinho’s tenure at Manchester United began with promise in 2016, culminating in a UEFA Europa League triumph the following season. However, as results faltered during the 2018-19 campaign, speculation mounted regarding Mourinho’s future with the club.
In December 2018, Mourinho was relieved of his duties following Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat against Liverpool. Notably, Pogba was absent from the starting lineup, having also missed the previous two matches.
According to Keys, Mourinho deliberately benched Pogba, then a star player, knowing it would provoke his dismissal. In his blog, Keys wrote:
“He once told me he knew he’d be sacked at United for leaving Pogba out of three consecutive games – at a time when the Frenchman’s stock was at its highest. All planned. And it worked perfectly. He wanted the sack. He got it.”
Despite recent speculation linking Mourinho with a return to Manchester United after his dismissal from AS Roma, Keys dismissed such notions:
“Never mind that he went on to say that his biggest regret at Old Trafford wasn’t that he should have left at the end of the first season – but taking the job in the first place. How does that sit with those suggesting he’s got ‘unfinished business’ at United?”
During his tenure at Manchester United, Mourinho achieved 84 victories in 144 matches, with 29 losses and 31 draws.