February 20, 2018 / 9:25 PM / 8 months ago

Soccer-No extra burden on Pogba against Sevilla - Mourinho

SEVILLE, Spain, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said there was no extra pressure on record signing Paul Pogba to end a run of poor form with an impressive performance in his side’s Champions League last-16 first leg away to Sevilla on Wednesday.

Pogba returned to full training on Tuesday, after missing United’s FA Cup fifth round win over Huddersfield Town through illness, with the France international under increased scrutiny over his dip in form.

Pogba, who rejoined United for a then world record 105 million euros ($129.52 million) in July 2016, has not played a full 90 minutes for the club since they beat Burnley 1-0 on Jan. 20.

He was substituted by Mourinho after disappointing displays in recent defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United.

The Portuguese coach, however, said Pogba was not under any special obligation to deliver against Sevilla, who have only lost once at their atmospheric Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in the last 15 months.

“I don’t think it’s fair to speak about responsibilities of one player, we don’t like the fact that a player who cost X million doesn’t have the same responsibility (than one) that has cost three times X. I don’t like that kind of approach,” Mourinho told a news conference on Tuesday.

“When I decide which team to play I don’t look at a player’s age, salary or transfer fee. I think that’s not fair.”

The Portuguese said United were not among the favourites to win the competition but pointed out that when he had won the trophy with Porto and Inter Milan his side were not widely backed to go all the way.

“When I won it with Porto we had a very young inexperienced team, with players who were playing in the Champions League for the first time. Then I won it with a team that was exactly the opposite, lots of players over 30 with great experience but not a lot of success until then,” Mourinho said.

“This team is somewhere in the middle. But Champions League dreams start around the quarter-finals and not the last 16.

“Now we are a long way away but when a team reaches the quarter-finals that’s the moment where even teams that are not the favourites, which is our case, start realising anything is possible.” ($1 = 0.8107 euros) (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)

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