A former team-mate of the French midfielder, and an admirer of an ousted Portuguese coach, concedes changes needed to be made at Old Trafford
Zlatan Ibrahimovic feels Paul Pogba is flourishing at Manchester United because he is “free” of Jose Mourinho.
Reports of a rift between high-profile coach and World Cup-winning midfielder provided an unwelcome backdrop at Old Trafford over the opening months of the 2018-19 campaign.
Pogba eventually found himself benched as a result, with transfer talk sparked as an £89 million ($114m) asset was left to consider his options.
Mourinho, though, would be the one to make his way through the exits, as United decided to make a change in the dugout and bring former favourite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer back in an interim role.
Seven successive victories have been secured under the Norwegian, with Pogba registering five goals and four assists.
Former team-mate Ibrahimovic is not surprised to see the 25-year-old showing his true colours, telling ESPN FC: “There are these players that need to be free, they need to feel free to do what they are able to do under the disciple of the coach.
“Obviously, he has his tactics, he has that, but some players they go above these limits, and you need to let them be free, and I think Paul is one of them.
“Paul didn’t feel confidence from the coach [Mourinho], and the coach didn’t feel confidence for Paul.
“It’s difficult to perform as a player if you don’t have confidence from the coach and you don’t have that energy, that motivation, and Jose felt the same thing about Paul.
“These things happen, and that is part of the game also; I mean, not everybody can go among each other and do well together.
“I feel like you come to a moment where it is too blocked and one goes or the other one goes. At this moment, the coach left, and Paul is more free now.”
Pogba’s efforts, combined with those of a rejuvenated Marcus Rashford, have helped United to close on the Premier League’s top four.
They remain sixth in the table at present, but are level with Arsenal and only three points adrift of Chelsea and the final Champions League spot.
Their attention is about to shift to FA Cup matters, as they prepare to face the Gunners in a heavyweight fourth-round clash on Friday, while Solskjaer will be seeking to make history by becoming the first manager to start a reign with seven straight Premier League victories when the Red Devils play host to Burnley on January 29.
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