Jose Mourinho is right to defend Paul Pogba, but so wrong to use money to fend off his Manchester United critics

What does Mourinho's defence of claiming people will never earn what Pogba does teach the United midfielder about core values?

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Antonio Conte may have surpassed Jose Mourinho as a manager, but the old master showed that he still had his genius instinct for a soundbite on Monday evening when he responded to Chelsea fans. "Judas is still number one," he said, showing a gift with words many journalists would kill for.

And yet for a man so astute at playing the media, Mourinho has a habit of appearing remarkably tone deaf.

Twice this week Mourinho has leaped to the defence of Paul Pogba, as any good manager would for one of his players who was taking criticism. But the shield he has built for Pogba has been one made of money.

On Monday night he said that Pogba should ignore his critics because “they will never ever earn 10 per cent of what he does”. He returned to the topic on Wednesday morning, saying that criticism came from those who were beneath him, because of the "need [for] every coin to survive".

Firstly, the fact that multi-millionaire Champions League winner Frank Lampard was one of Pogba’s most outspoken critics this week somewhat weakens that line of thinking. 

Secondly, what does that say about whose voice Mourinho thinks is valuable and whose is not? What does it say about what he thinks Pogba values, and what he feels is the best way to get through him? What sort of a message does it send to Manchester United fans, many of whom would see one per cent, not 10 per cent, of Pogba's salary as a distant dream. It is the type of bubbled thinking too often found at the top end of the game.

Of course Mourinho is right to defend his player and help him to believe in himself. Pogba has been victim of some unfair criticism and yes, his salary and fee, both at market rates, have been used against him. There is a discussion to have about why so many people are upset at the sight of a young rich black man, as Raheem Sterling found before Pogba.


Pogba's performance against Chelsea was roundly criticised (Getty)

But this is not what Mourinho was getting at this week. He said that money should be an insulation from criticism, and that those that have it do not need to listen to those who do not. Not a message in keeping with the traditional values of his club.