Mourinho on Paul Pogba and the World Cup
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has picked Juventus and France International Paul Pogba as the best young midfielder at the World Cup. The Blues manager, who is Yahoo’s Global Football Ambassador and an exclusive analyst for Yahoo’s worldwide football coverage, gave this verdict and on other world-related-topics in his latest interview with Yahoo.
Argentina have reached the finals of the World Cup and Lionel Messi has played a big part in it. The Barcelona superstar is widely regarded as one of the best players of this generation while many even consider him an all-time-best but Mourinho, who certainly feels Messi is a fantastic player, doesn’t think that the Argentine is the best player of all time.
“I think he is a fantastic player. He doesn’t need to win the World Cup to be considered a fantastic player. He doesn’t need to win the World Cup to be considered a historical player in this decade. But for me he is not the greatest player of all time.”
When asked to shed light on the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina, the Chelsea manager says the midfield battle could prove to be the key in deciding the result.
“In midfield, where Germany is very very strong because they have Schweinsteiger, Khedira and Kroos plus an important fact which is the fact that Ozil drops back, Muller drops back and they put many many times four or five players in a central area.
“It’s where they are really strong and they start controlling the possession of the game and initiative of the game. On the other side, its where Argentina is also very solid, with the outstanding Mascherano with the tactical discipline of Luca Biglia with fantastic effort , running and pressing and covering spaces from people like Enzo Perez and Lavezzi closing the sides.
So I think midfield will be a great battle and everybody will be waiting for the biggest talents to score a goal to win the match and both teams they have these talents.”
Now in a sort of rapid fire session, Mourinho was asked to comment on best player, best young player, best goal, best manager, best goal keeper and so on. Let us check his answers:
Best goalkeeper? “If Neuer is so good and so solid [in the Final] as he was up until now I would say Neuer.
Best player? “I think Robben, I think from day one until the last match I think he was the player that play from day one until the last moment at a high level, never ever up and down, always up.”
Best young player? “I would say Pogba, because he had a good World Cup despite the fact his team didn’t reach the last four, I think he showed that he is a big player for the next World Cup.”
Best goal? “I think the Cahill goals is obviously a fantastic goal, but one player and a lucky strike can score that fantastic goal.”
Biggest surprise? “Costa Rica, they played the first match and they did an amazing result, I was saying this is not possible to repeat and they did in the second, after the second game I thought this not possible to repeat and they did in the third and they qualify and they went to the last sixteen and I thought this time they cannot do it and they did so for me some good surprises but Costa Rica was the biggest surprise.”
Biggest Disappointment? “Lots of big teams, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, so many of them were below expectations and didn’t even qualify from the group stage.”
Describe the World Cup in one word? “Fantastic World Cup! I think the biggest responsibility for the World Cup to be so fantastic is exactly from the teams that I named before, Costa Rica, Columbia, Chile, US , Algeria, these are the teams responsible for the beautiful World Cup.”
The US will be a legitimate World Cup contender in… “When soccer becomes the sport number one is the US.”
National squad with most potential in 2018 is… “Belgium.”
Best manager at the World Cup? “Halihodzic, Herrera, Sampaoli, Pinto, Jurgen, Pekerman, all of them fantastic but if I have to choose one because I think also he did a fantastic job, with a team that in my opinion was not strong enough to arrive where they arrive, I would chose Louis Van Gaal.”
Mourinho further adds that it is bad to have a game to decide the third and fourth spot in the World Cup. He added:
“If you lose a semi-final you want to go home and cry, you want to go home and get your wife and kids and go for a holiday, you don’t want to play.
You go to the competition to win, you don’t want to go there to finish third or fourth. You want to go home, you don’t want to play. I lost a Champions League Semi-Final and I don’t imagine that a few days later I could play against the other loser of the semi-final and play for third or fourth place.
The guys at Wimbledon after 5 hours of tennis they don’t go and play for third place. I think it’s very bad!”
The French midfielder has been constantly linked with a move to Chelsea this summer. However, Mourinho’s comments should be seen as a compliment coming from a successful manager and not any hidden connotations. Check out this video where he speaks about Paul Pogba and other World Cup related questions below.