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Paul Pogba watches from the bench as Man United rediscover their mojo

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Paul Pogba watches from the bench as Manchester United rediscover their mojo with thumping win over Fulham... Jose Mourinho's side look more fluid and cohesive without French iconManchester United thrashed Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoonPaul Pogba was an unused substitute after also being benched against ArsenalUnited have looked a more fluid, cohesive unit without him in the last two games

Before anyone gets too carried away, it was Fulham. Bottom-of-the-table Fulham. Without a win in 11 Premier League games, losing seven in a row, Fulham.

That said, this was another very encouraging performance from Manchester United after the comeback draw with Arsenal in midweek.

Jose Mourinho's side seem to have re-discovered their mojo thanks to an injection of young blood and a high-energy approach.

Paul Pogba warmed up before Manchester United vs Fulham but he remained an unused sub

Pogba was seen grinning as he watched United from the bench as they hammered Fulham 4-1

Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard's enthusiasm is rubbing off on their team-mates. Diogo Dalot is beginning to show why United paid FC Porto £19million for him in the summer. Romelu Lukaku looks to be emerging from his goal drought with two in his last two games, and Ashley Young scored his first for more than a year in what was also United's biggest win in 13 months.

And watching it all was Paul Pogba.

These are strange times for him. Less than five months ago, Pogba was inspiring France to World Cup glory. Now he can't even get in a United side struggling to escape the torpor of a difficult season.

This was the third time in the last four games that Mourinho has decided United's £89million record signing is better off on the bench – and it's hard to disagree with him.

United have looked a more fluid, cohesive unit without him against Arsenal and Fulham. Pogba lacks the defensive discipline that Mourinho demands, and slows the game down showcasing his tricks when quicker distribution is often required.

On his last two starts, against Crystal Palace and Southampton, he was guilty of breath-taking wastefulness for a player of his calibre, and a lack of desire to correct his own mistakes.

When he came off the bench against Arsenal on Wednesday night, there was a decidedly mixed reception from an Old Trafford crowd that has showed admirable patience in recent years.

He was back on the touchline here, warming up with the rest of the substitutes, partially hidden beneath a hat to protect him from the wind and rain of a grim Manchester day.

Yet Mourinho opted to put on Fred before him, having openly admitted 24 hours earlier that he is reluctant to risk the Brazilian while United remain so defensively fragile.

Then he brought on Scott McTominay with seven minutes to go, leaving Pogba stewing on the bench until the final whistle. 

Marcus Rashford was in fine form as the youngster provided a goal and two assists for United

Belgian star Romelu Lukaku (centre) scored his second goal in three Premier League games

Mourinho says he will play in what will most likely be a meaningless Champions League tie with Valencia in midweek, but it's clear Pogba has work to do before he is considered a first-choice selection again.

'He has to play with the same mentality as the team is playing,' said Mourinho. 'Paul can be a fantastic player. He has the potential to be a fantastic player.

'Against Valencia he is going to start and have a fantastic football game to play and to show everybody how good he is.' 

So what does the future hold for United's most expensive player? When Pogba's desire to leave the club again and join Barcelona in January first emerged last summer, it seemed inconceivable that United would let him go.

It is still highly unlikely that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward would consider it, given the lengths he went to when re-signing Pogba from Juventus in the summer of 2016, and the player's importance to the United brand.

But, with three weeks to go until the transfer window opens across Europe, the thought of a midfield without Pogba is no longer such a strange one. The sight of his name among the substitutes on match day is no longer a shock.

He has made himself dispensable and Mourinho has been as ruthless in dropping him from the team as he was in stripping him of the vice-captaincy in September.

The relationship between the two men has stabilised to a degree since then, although it is understood to be civil at best. Equally, the interest from Barcelona is said to have gone quiet for now.

Pogba could be stuck at United, at least until the summer, when he could be working under a different manager and the situation could change again.

Until then, he might have to get more accustomed to the bench.


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