MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Jan 16 – Manchester United boss lavished praise on Paul Pogba after the midfielder put in a superb performance as the Red Devils swept aside Stoke City 3-0 in the Premier League on Monday night.
Pogba set up Anthony Martial for United’s second goal after Antonio Valencia’s superb opener and put in a man-of-the-match showing as United closed the gap on leaders Manchester City to 12 points.
After the game, Mourinho praised Pogba’s contribution and said it was vital for his improving team.
“He was moving the ball fantastically well, with long passes changing the direction and creating problems for the opponent,” said the Portuguese.
“He had an assist and if he had scored the free-kick with the last shot of the game, it would be really a reward for him.
“I think he is happy with the way the team is playing and he’s happy because the team is changing the profile and the profile is going more in his direction.”
Still, Mourinho was not entirely happy with the performance, adding that it wasn’t until the second half that United managed to take control.
“I think the first half was not very good, I think Stoke had a good, positive attitude. We scored an amazing goal, but it was not enough to hurt them because they had a very good reaction, they were very positive, they had the best chances in the first half, and then we were a bit lucky to score the second goal, another beautiful one.
“In the second half it was different, the second half was harder for them, 2-0 was difficult for them to react to, we were in control of the game.”
Despite the win, Mourinho said it would still be extremely difficult to catch City.
“I think the distance between first and second is still big, distance that normally, the leader controls.
“I’ve been there before, you play without pressure, you play with confidence, you play with a tranquility that you can slip and make a few errors no problem, so it’s up to them [City] to keep the confidence and to control their destiny.
“But it doesn’t matter what the points distance is to me, what matters is that every match we have to win and we have to try and finish in the best possible position.”