Paul Pogba has been in scintillating form in recent weeks for Manchester United. The French World Cup winner has been one of the stars of Manchester United’s rise to the top of the Premier League table, contributing crucial goals in wins away at West Ham, Burnley and Fulham. In an interview with Rio Ferdinand for BT Sport ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Sheffield United, Pogba drove home that he and his teammates will not be happy until they have silverware to show for their form – but he also remained coy on questions about his long-term future at Old Trafford.
After over ten minutes of general chat, Ferdinand finally brought up the subject of a contract extension, a question Pogba appeared to be expecting.
“You were waiting for this one! I’m on contract, I’m enjoying myself, I’m here. Everybody knows that I have one year left, I’m going to speak with the club and see what’s going on. For now, like I say, my objective – my goal – is to win something. That’s all I’m thinking about is to win. Bring all my energy, give my best, to help my team the most. […] The contract is not important – it’s to win.”
It seems as though Pogba is happy at Manchester United, though his answer may not go all the way to satisfying his nay-sayers on his long-term future. He did, however, repeatedly drove home the aspirations of both himself and the team to win something.
“We’ve been playing very well, very good, big performances. But, at the end…we didn’t win nothing yet, so that’s what we want to do – play well and win trophies. We don’t want to only win trophies and play ****. We will still be happy, but we try to get back on the winning mentality.”
Pogba’s time at Man Utd has not been short of controversy. The Frenchman has been the subject of criticism from many pundits, with his most outspoken critic being Graeme Souness. He has been accused of a lack of motivation and of destabilising team spirit, both in the José Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eras, and has spent prolonged periods out of the team at several points of his near five years at United since returning to the club from Juventus in 2016.
The actions of his agent, Mino Raiola, have not gone unnoticed either, with Raiola publicly stating only weeks ago that Pogba was unhappy at United and wanted to leave in the January transfer window. Pogba’s performances of late and happy demeanour on the pitch would appear to contradict the ruminations of his agent – but he remains a divisive figure among United fans, not least because of the actions of Raiola.
Though Pogba acknowledged that Manchester United had made huge strides in closing the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City, he made clear that the team don’t think they are at the top yet, saying, “I don’t want to say we’re here yet – we’re not. They’ve won trophies and we didn’t. So, we’re still behind them, we didn’t win anything, so we’ve got to keep working and improving.”
Much has been made of Bruno Fernandes’ impact at United since his arrival at the club this time last year. Questions were asked whether Fernandes and Pogba could play in the same team, with recent form suggesting the two both can and do play well together. Pogba himself acknowledged that fact, saying, “it’s always good to have two players who can create – one who is more defensive and the other is more offensive.”
Pushing Pogba on the topic of Fernandes, Ferdinand questioned whether the Portuguese playmaker’s arrival had eased the pressure on him and, later, whether Pogba himself enjoyed pressure. The French midfielder suggested that pressure is what drives him, saying “I always need pressure, playing against big teams. This is my engine. I need to have that.”
Many United fans will need more from Pogba before they begin to come around to his presence at the club, but the energy from this interview suggests that he is relishing his new role as an ever-present in the team. For now, at least, his sole focus is bringing the title back to the red side of Manchester – music to the ears of both United fans and his interviewer Ferdinand.