Paul Pogba assesses Manchester United's 2020-21 season, the growth of the team, discusses his partnership with Bruno Fernandes and more.
- Hey, Paul. Thanks for spending some time with us this morning. I know it's a busy time for you and Manchester United. Just to kick off, in terms of Manch. United in second in the table and going really well, how would you assess the season so far? It's probably been one of the best seasons, maybe the best squad since Alex Ferguson was there.
PAUL POGBA: Like you said, we've been doing very well this year. We're second, we're still on the Europa League. But we want to end up playing really well and pleased with ourselves. And we just want to win something, to achieve-- really our goal in this is to win the Europa League. And it was also to win the Premier League, but we were very close this year. So you can see some improvement. So that's a good thing.
- You've been back at Man. United now for nearly five years. Where have you seen the growth? Where have you seen improvements in the team over the years you've been back now?
PAUL POGBA: We see some improvement. I'll say, it's always been good for me. We always had a good team. The first year, we won trophies, and unfortunately, the year after, we arrived second. So we always had a good team, a good squad, for me. And we missed, maybe, a little bit of the trophy and some good result at a good time.
And obviously some improvement on players. When, also, Bruno arrived, he bring a big energy into the squad. But the only things that I can say we improved and we got better is to get the trophy. So if we can get the trophy, obviously is going to be a big improvement since I arrived.
- You're such a big-name player around the world. You've had your ups and downs with injuries, maybe your ups and downs with form. Right now, you look as focused in and as comfortable in this United team as you've been. What's your mentality at the moment? How are you feeling about Paul Pogba being in Manchester United?
PAUL POGBA: I feel great, as always. That will never change. Life is about up and down. It's also about never give up. So we never give up. Having injuries, I know it's not easy, also, to get injured and come back and perform well. So we're just trying to do that.
I know I have a good team working with me. The staff, the players, always, they always help me to come back and to be at my best and to just carry on. Still is the same team now. We're just pushing to get better to improve ourselves, to improve the team. That's it.
- We have a huge American audience, many who are Manchester United fans. And there's always lots of debate about where Paul Pogba's best positioned. We see sometimes playing as one of the holding two, we've seen you playing from the left, we've seen you playing sometimes central where Bruno plays. Where do you prefer to play, and what's your conversations with Ole?
PAUL POGBA: Well, sometimes, you say, oh, I can play everywhere. I can play on the left, on the right. For me, really, it's to be on the pitch. I know I can help the team different ways when I'm in the holding midfielder, or when I'm as a 10 on the left, on the right. I just want to be on the pitch, and I just want to play. I just want to enjoy having the ball get in the box, defending, just do a little bit of everything. That's what Ole tells me, is just to come on and give me the instruction that I need to know, and I just go on the pitch and I do that for my team.
- You seem to have a great relationship with Bruno Fernandes. You're the two key players in that midfield area. Just tell us about what it's like playing with him. And there is some rumors that you two communicate in Italian, from, maybe, your days in Juventus.
PAUL POGBA: Yeah, I have a very good relationship with Bruno. Very good guy. It's a winner-- I like the mentality, also. And it's true that we speak in Italian. We always-- I don't know, we started like this. When he arrived, we start speaking Italian, and we just carry on speaking Italian, because when you start speaking-- he was at Udinese and I was at Juventus, and we start speaking Italian, so we just carry on doing that.
Bruno was a big impact for us in the team. He bring us this energy, this passing, this finishing. We really like that. We needed that. Also, me and him on the pitch got good understanding. Also, for his passing me, my running, or vice versa, we get on very well.
- It's been a difficult year for the fans, with the pandemic. Just talk to us about how much Manch. United has missed having the fans in stadium, supporting you on what's been a really good season so far.
PAUL POGBA: Yeah, to be honest, me personally-- everyone, really-- really missed them. We can see the impact they have in football, in general, or in sport. The love that they can bring to the stadium, the atmosphere and everything, the energy. Players need it. It's not that we feel a bit empty, but, you know, we miss this energy, the shout, and the crowd just being behind us and pushing us in difficult moments. Because we need that. And we really miss them. We really hope that they can be very soon in the stadium, to feel this energy again and to support the team.
- Just in terms of-- I just want to change subject a little bit-- in terms of the racial issues we've seen around football recently. Back in the day, 20 years ago when I was in the Premier League, we were fighting against racism. How do you feel that fight is going, and how important is it that players like yourself with such huge profiles are able to influence some of those conversations?
PAUL POGBA: When there's a fight, there's a winner. In racism, when you fight, you need to fight and you need to win something. We've been fighting for so long and making some impact at the start, but it looks like then after it disappeared. The fight doesn't carry on, doesn't go on. And that's something that I don't understand. Because when we want really to stop something, like we did in Super League, I give you an example, they stop it straight away. And we can do that also for racism. The energy, everyone being together against the Super League-- I want to see the same energy to stop racism, in the sport, in life, and everywhere. It's something that we're still fighting on, and I really hope we're going to win this battle. Meaning, not white, not Black, but we all together, to stop racism. We need to stop this, because we don't want to see that. We don't need that. We don't need that in life and we don't need that in sport.
- Well said. Thank you. Just in terms of moving towards the end of the season, obviously, you've got Europa League, you're trying to finish second, and you've got the Euros coming up. How are you feeling about your chances of maybe winning the Europa League and the Euros with France? Or do you not think about international football at this point?
PAUL POGBA: You know, when we're playing, we're playing to win something. So we focus on the Europa league, then after, National team will come up after, hopefully. For me, we don't get injured, we don't get anything but coming. And yes, that's the goals. You want to win every time. Like I say, fight is to win. You want to win something. Because when you do something, we play, it's not to lose. It's just to go and get a trophy.
- You talk about winning finally. Manchester United every year used to want to win the title. It's probably not going to happen this season. You see all the right signs for United to be making more of a challenge, maybe, next season?
PAUL POGBA: Yeah. Yeah, we're getting closer and closer. We see that we were struggling a little bit. We know that. But you don't have to look back. You have to look forward. And what's forward now is second. Now you get closer to City, where they were before, to be honest, way ahead of us, and now we show them. We compete. We show that we're here and we have a team to go and win the title. And it's just a few details. We can do it, for sure. Liverpool did it, City did it, and-- are we there? We have to show as well that we can make it. And that's the next goal for us.
- That's a goal. Thanks a lot for your time. I appreciate you're busy and you've got Zoom interviews. But good luck for the rest of the season.
PAUL POGBA: Thank you so much.