Jose Mourinho warned his Tottenham players of the danger posed by Paul Pogba and his ‘beautiful’ passes when Spurs took on Manchester United at the end of last season, footage from Amazon Prime’s All or Nothing documentary has revealed.
The Red Devils travelled to north London for both sides’ first game back after the restart back in June, with Pogba named on the bench for the time in 2020 after shaking off a long-standing injury.
Spurs took the lead through Steven Bergwijn but would be undone when Pogba entered the match, pulling strings in midfield and ultimately winning the penalty that resulted in a 1-1 draw.
Mid-game, though, Mourinho had made a point of underlining the importance of stopping Pogba when he inevitably came on, speaking in glowing terms about the Frenchman despite how their relationship soured at Old Trafford.
Addressing the squad at half-time in the dressing room, Mourinho said: ‘I think, for sure, sooner or later Pogba is coming. And every time Pogba has the ball, he will have the vision, he will have the quality of pass.
‘So I can imagine Pogba from a position like that [deep right of midfield] to get the ball and to make a beautiful pass here for Marcus Rashford to go.
‘So Pogba will improve the quality of passing, so we need to press him. And we need to control what is far from him.
‘They want to press all the time. You need to measure the risk, don’t make mistakes, don’t attract the pressure. One thing is to play short – one pass, another pass and then we go – another thing is pass here, pass here, pass there because you are attracting the pressure.
‘There is a lot of space to counter-attack and to kill them.’
As the players stood up to go back out on the pitch, Mourinho shouted: ‘Don’t let Pogba shoot! If he approaches the box, press the ball if he shoots!’
Pogba came on in the 63rd minute and jinked past Eric Dier to earn a spot-kick which Bruno Fernandes converted, while he also played exactly the long, crossfield pass to Rashford that Mourinho had warned his players about during his half-time team talk- though Davinson Sanchez managed to recover and tackle the striker.
The final three episodes of Tottenham Hotspur: All or Nothing air on Amazon Prime on Monday 14 September.