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Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2017

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has said Paul Pogba “doesn’t give an ass” about criticism directed at him after the Red Devils’ 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup on Monday.

Not for the first time since his £89 million move back to Old Trafford from Juventus in the summer, Frenchman Pogba was accused of going missing against the Blues:

Speaking ahead of United’s UEFA Europa League last-16 second leg against Rostov on Thursday at Old Trafford, Mourinho hit back at criticism of his midfielder, saying those going after Pogba are simply envious of him, per The Mirror‘s Joe Mewis:

I feel that the world is losing values and we all know that and envy is coming into certain levels that I am scared with. It is not Paul’s fault that he gets ten times the money that some very good players get. It is not Paul’s fault that some fans are in trouble and need every penny to survive.

He needs respect, his family deserve respect. He comes form a working family with three boys so I am sure the Mum and Dad worked hard for many years. A kid that comes to Manchester as a teenager to fight for his career here and was not afraid to work for a better life.

Mourinho continued: “He reached the top of the world, nobody gave him anything. I am very happy with Paul. The club is very happy with Paul and I think the good thing is because of his personality he does not give an ass what people say.”

United would be greatly helped by a good performance from Pogba on Thursday as they look to seal a spot in the quarter-finals after drawing 1-1 in the first leg in Rostov.

The Red Devils are heavy favourites to claim a win at home and advance, and they will welcome back Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the side after he missed the Chelsea match due to a domestic suspension.

Mourinho said the Swedish striker is the only addition to the squad that lost to Chelsea, per Chris Winterburn of Metro:

Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney are both still out having missed the trip to Stamford Bridge, and Mourinho gave a brief explanation of the French forward’s situation:

The Europa League has become an important competition for United this season, as it could be their best route to qualifying for the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League.

Despite an unbeaten league run stretching back to October, Mourinho’s side have been unable to break into the top four in the English top flight:

While they are by no means out of the running to claim a top-four place, United may see winning the Europa League as an easier path into next season’s premier European club competition.

They’ll need to play six more matches to complete the task, starting with Thursday’s clash against Russian outfit Rostov.

An early goal will be vital for United to ease the nerves inside Old Trafford, and it should also make Rostov open up more and allow the hosts to exploit spaces behind the defence and potentially enjoy an easy night.  

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