MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) – Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said that Paul Pogba is channelling his extrovert personality in the right way after toning down his off-field behaviour.
Pogba has rediscovered his form since Solskjaer took charge at as United’s interim manager in December last year following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
Having endured a difficult first half the season, the France star has scored nine goals and provided six assists in his last 12 club appearances as United have shot into fourth with Premier League eight wins in nine and reached the FA Cup quarter-finals after convincingly beating Chelsea earlier this month.
“He is a leader in training, he is a leader in the dressing room,” Solskjaer said.
“Players are allowed to be themselves. He spends a lot of energy being a leader on and off the pitch.”
The midfielder has become as well-known for his colourful hairstyles and his social media posts as for his football skills during his time at Old Trafford.
“If you want the nice car, different haircut, it is not a problem. I can’t do anything about my grey hair, but it is not a problem that you have whatever haircut you want,” said Solskjaer.
“It has never been a problem with Paul. I remember when he was 16, he wanted to feel good. If you feel good, you will play well.”
Pogba’s social media use was a problem for Mourinho, who was reported to be unhappy that the midfielder broke United rules by filming an Instagram video in the training ground changing rooms to wish Jesse Lingard a happy birthday.
That was shortly before the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool that cost the former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager his job.
Solskjaer believes it is important that players remain focussed on their job, and do not have too many off-field distractions – making what seemed to be a passing reference to the appearance of Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge at the Brit Awards at London’s O2 Arena last Wednesday.
“Paul has always been a larger-than-life character. But you don’t want to give anyone an excuse really, so of course, you don’t go to the Brit awards this week,” he said.
“It is not about that. We know they are focussed, we know they are doing their best but he does help himself by toning it down a bit … knowing him, he wants to win, he wants to be the best.”