With Manchester United winning regularly and scoring by the bucketloads, let us all pause and give thanks for this injury crisis. Otherwise, we might have to actually write something positive about the team. And we’ve a brand to maintain here.
The most irritating absence from United’s team at the moment is Paul Pogba, who began the season looking like the world-class talent he’s supposed to be, then did his hamstring against Basel. Asked today about his fitness, Jose Mourinho appeared to suggest that Pogba’s injury could be bracketed alongside those of Zlatan Ibrahimović or Marcos Rojo:
[Pogba’s] injured, he cannot play tomorrow. His injury is not one that I can have the hope like I can have with Valencia or Jones. With them, I have the hope to see them training and to have a positive answer. But with long-term injuries, I don't speak about them, so Ibra, Pogba, Rojo and these players, I don't think about them.
Closer examination, however, isn’t quite so conclusive. All we know is that Pogba’s injured and won’t be returning to training imminently. But that could mean anything from “about a month” to “he’s dead, we’ve had to institute a full Weekend at Bernie’s scenario, please stop asking”.
It’s been a constant theme throughout Mourinho’s career that injured players, being of no immediate use, are essentially non-persons. Here’s John Terry — yes, sorry — talking about Mourinho’s time at Chelsea ...
If you picked up a knock and missed a day’s training, he’d come in and he wouldn’t speak to you. He would walk straight past you on the treatment table ... he blanks you and he says to the physio, while you’re there so he knows what he’s doing, ‘How long?’ ‘And the physio would say, ‘couple of days’ and he’d just walk out.
... although maybe he just didn’t want to talk to ol’ Captain, Leader, Legend. Hard to blame him.
Either way, no Pogba this weekend. You’re a lucky man, Roy Hodgson. A lucky man.