JOSE MOURINHO has warned Paul Pogba he has to earn his trust as he called an uneasy truce with bitter rival Antonio Conte.
Mourinho is set to recall Pogba to his starting line-up for Manchester United showdown with Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday but wants his £89m record buy to show he deserves to stay in the team with a disciplined display.
And he again used homegrown youngster Scott McTominay – who has taken Pogba’s place in recent games – as an example.
“I don’t give trust for free,” he said. “I don’t think it’s about the manager trusting the player, it is up to the player to make the manager trust him.
“Sometimes it looks like we have to give everything to the players and they give nothing back to us. But I don’t think that way.
“The confidence and trust I show towards Scott, he has earned it since day one, since he came to the first-team training sessions, step by step, with a lot to learn and a long way to go.”
Mourinho did praise Pogba for his “professional attitude” to being left on the bench for the second time in two weeks in Seville in midweek, and described his performance as “positive” after coming on early in the game for the injured Ander Herrera, who is facing around a month out with a torn hamstring
Paul Pogba has been out of the side with Mourinho favouring Scott McTominay
“He had a very positive game,” he added. “He responded very well in a professional way against Huddersfield and Seville.
“It’s always more difficult to come from the bench than to start. A player when he is starting the game has a different kind of preparation for it. To be on the bench and to come on without warming up and getting to the pace of the game is not easy
“Some players can take five minutes to be ready to play but he took 10 seconds to be ready to come to the pitch and show he was ready to help the team.”
Meanwhile, Mourinho and Conte both refused to inflame their rift ahead of the game, with the United boss describing the Italian as “a very good manager of a fantastic team”.
At the height of their verbal spat in January, Conte said he wanted to meet Mourinho face-to-face to sort out their differences but yesterday, after hearing what Mourinho had said, he was in more diplomatic mode.
“I’m not interested in this topic,” he said. “Both said something in the past, but for me, the situation has stopped.”
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Conte is determined his rivalry with Mourinho is not a distraction for his players tomorrow, although it is understood that privately he is still fuming at Mourinho’s jibe about match-fixing, which Conte was cleared of in Italy. The Chelsea boss had retaliated by calling Mourinho a “little man” and a “fake”.
For now though Conte has called a ceasefire but admitted the pressure managers are under these days does lead to mistakes
“We are human,” he said. “Everyone makes mistakes. It’s important, when you make a mistake, that you do it with an honest vision. Be honest in every moment.
“If you are honest, it’s alright to make a mistake. If you are dishonest and make a bad decision, it’s not a good mistake.”