In a wide-ranging interview with Sky Sports, Paul Pogba speaks openly about his desire to end his four-year wait for silverware with Manchester United, his preferred position and partnership with Bruno Fernandes and his role in helping Mason Greenwood realise his world-class potential.
Pogba scored the opening goal in the 2017 Europa League final victory over Ajax in Stockholm, the last time United got their hands on a trophy.
Pogba has since enjoyed success on the international stage, winning the 2018 World Cup with France in Russia, but winners’ medals have not been forthcoming at club level.
United remain on course to end their trophy drought having reached this season’s Europa League semi-finals, and Pogba is desperate to reacquaint himself with silverware.
“Personally I miss it a lot and feel like I miss something,” Pogba told Sky Sports. “We have to win something.
“I just want to win something; I don’t like to play and not win. I’m a bad loser, I will always be a bad loser, so every time I play, I want to win. Personally, we want it very bad. I think we are getting closer and closer; there is improvement I would say.
“When I say improvement, this club has such big goals and objectives we want to achieve and that is to win and to have a trophy to hold. That is what we want and that will be the big step.”
Pogba added: “I’m happy, we’re there, we’re close. We’re still in the Europa League, we still have something to play for.
“We have the league still, as long as City don’t have the trophy we’re going to keep working and playing. We still have a chance to win something this year so, why not?”
Pogba: Preferred position? Just to play!
Pogba has further underlined his importance to Manchester United this season with a string of influential performances, notably throughout January, where he helped propel the club to the top of the Premier League. His stock grew further when an injury-enforced spell on the sidelines coincided with United conceding the title initiative to Manchester City.
Pogba marked his return from injury in March by firing United into the Europa League quarter-finals with the winner against AC Milan and has gone on to excel in a number of positions across midfield, providing crucial attacking flair and improved defensive contributions.
While the debate over Pogba’s best position may rumble on, the Frenchman is in no doubt that his preferred position is just to simply be on the pitch, carrying out Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s orders to the best of his ability.
Asked what his preferred position was, Pogba replied: “To play, I just prefer to play. I like attacking, I like being in the box, I like to be decisive for my team – if I can do both, I do it. I like to defend as well, to recover balls and get to the box. I just like to be free, free to play my football.
“I am better when I play my football, when I get in the box, get some shots, passes and tackles, a bit of everything. I think every player needs to play where they feel comfortable. When you do well somewhere you carry on and keep doing it.
“It would be more difficult for someone to be consistent and play well when you change a lot, but there are different roles and it defends what role the manager wants you to play. As long as you can help the team where the manager wants, that’s what matters.
“You don’t want to be selfish, but I obviously want to play, feel comfortable with myself and with the manager and give my best. If the manager tells me to play deeper, I’ll play deeper and give my best to help the team as much as I can. If I have to be higher in the pocket, I will do the same.”
The Pogba-Bruno axis
When Bruno Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford in January 2020, uncertainty shrouded his suitability to play alongside Pogba, but the pair have proven time and again that their varied, yet equally effective games can complement each other.
Having watched Fernandes from a distance during another lengthy injury spell when the Portuguese first arrived, Pogba explains how his midfield partner’s infectious personality on and off the pitch was perfectly suited to him and United.
“When Bruno arrived, I was injured so I wasn’t playing,” Pogba said. “When I came back from injury I had to go in and adapt to a team that had been there and been having very good results.
“I went into a deeper midfield position and we just found the way of playing together, which was getting the ball to Bruno, being offensive and trying to get into the box. I found it quite good with Bruno, I adapted very well with him, he understands me, and I understand him.
“I watched the way he was playing when I was injured, he affected the team so much and helped the team be where we are today.”
Pogba added: “I saw Bruno as a dynamic, offensive and creative midfielder with top quality; his passing is world-class, and his shooting is very good.
“Obviously, the impact he has had, his personality is very big and to be at this club you need that to play and be dominant like he did when he arrived. He speaks a lot, he speaks so much, he has to speak, that’s the first impression I had from him.
“It’s good to have people with personality, he brings something else. He brought something else into the team and club and he adapted straight away. Everyone liked him and his football suited the team, and everything went very well.”
Greenwood has world-class potential, but Pogba reserving praise
Pogba and Fernandes’ strong finish to this most arduous of campaigns has been supplemented by Mason Greenwood’s timely return to form.
The 19-year-old has registered three goals and an assist in his last five appearances, drawing comparisons with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo for his performances for United as a teenager.
Pogba is confident Greenwood has all the attributes to emulate those illustrious names but stopped short of showing his fellow academy graduate with praise, instead choosing to highlight the work the remains for the striker’s true potential to be realised.
“Like I have always said, Mason is a big-talented player that we had from our academy,” Pogba added. “He can go to the highest level, world class, it just depends on him. He has to work hard, harder than everyone, believe in himself and want it.
“When you’re talented like this, you already have talent, now it’s only the work you put in to make you become the world class player you have to become with this talent. It depends on him, I will always be the guy to push him, not praise him too much, but push him to get to the level he should arrive at.
“That’s the way I am, I don’t like being praised too much because you can get too comfortable and you think you are there when you are not. That is how I grew up, that is how my dad talked to me. If I scored one goal that wasn’t enough, if you score two then score three, always want more.
“Big players, world-class players like Lionel Messi and Ronaldo have been top class for years and years. Achieving that for one year is not enough, you want to be world-class for your whole career, for five or 10 years, that is what you want to achieve.”
How to follow Man Utd vs Burnley
Manchester United vs Burnley will be shown live Super Sunday on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 3.30pm; kick-off 4pm.
Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.