Didier Deschamps has defended Paul Pogba’s leadership qualities during a week when he was told by José Mourinho that he would never captain Manchester United again.
The France manager was full of praise for the way Pogba became a central figure in the dressing room during the World Cup and a strong influence on the group. “He has taken many things upon himself. He has been a leader,” Deschamps said. “Each time he had to talk and express himself it was always very positive. It’s the words he uses and the atmosphere and feeling that comes across. He is not the only one but he is one of the leaders who took it upon himself because the group needed it. On the pitch he did what needed to be done as well.”
Deschamps believes Pogba’s best personal qualities sometimes get lost in the way he presents himself with his big social media presence and extrovert public personality. “There are a few things people ought to know,” Deschamps said. “First of all there is an image of Paul that doesn’t correspond to who he is. Maybe it is because he is a bit eccentric, a bit demonstrative. He has been with me since 2013 – that is five years now – and the way he functions is not about him for himself, it is him as part of the group. That is really important.
“His image in the media makes everything quite complicated. The amount of the transfer to Manchester United is ridiculous … it wasn’t easy to manage.
“During this World Cup he managed to get a normal image back. The fact he talks, it liberates him a bit, but the most important thing is that Paul came to this World Cup with a very precise idea: he wanted to prepare himself to be world champion. That is what he had in his mind.”
As for the idea there is a different Pogba for club and country, Deschamps said that was not uncommon in football. “For Paul it depends not only on him but also the team he is in, the collective way of playing. It is not a case of one player who makes the team win.”