Paul Pogba 'improving' consistency after some flat games - Jose Mourinho
MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho challenged Paul Pogba to replicate his display in Manchester United's second-half comeback against Manchester City every week.
The Frenchman helped United spoil City's title party with two goals as Mourinho's side fought back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
Pogba was at the centre of controversy the day before the game after Pep Guardiola claimed he was offered the chance to sign the midfielder by his agent, Mino Raiola, who declined speaking to the City manager. In any event, sources have since said United would never consider selling Pogba to their local rivals.
Mourinho said he after the game he has not spoken to Pogba about Guardiola's claim. But he did tell the 25-year-old he has now set the standard for himself after struggling for form at times this season.
"I didn't even speak with him about what Pep told and what Raiola told," Mourinho told a news conference. "I didn't speak. I'm not interested in if it was Pep or Mino right, I'm not interested in that.
"I know that Paul played well against Swansea, I know he had a very good week of work, especially Tuesday and Wednesday, two fantastic training sessions and this game comes in that sequence.
"Of course, two goals for a midfield player in a big match like this one stays in the memory of the people, especially the fans.
"He needs that confidence because he knows, I know, he had some performances not at the level of expectation we have from Paul. But he's improving."
Speaking immediately after the game to Sky Sports, Mourinho smiled while saying that Pogba's performance at the Etihad would only fuel more speculation.
"If it's true that his agent offered him to some clubs, now the price has gone up," Mourinho said.
Pogba told Sky that his goals came as a result of his teammates encouraging him to make more runs into the box.
"I know they love to attack, they don't like to defend, so I knew I had to get in the box," Pogba said. "I know I have Matic behind. "You score one goal and your confidence goes up. [Alexis Sanchez] always tells me when you pass me the ball, 'Just make the run, I see you.'
"I give the credit to Michael [Carrick] because every time after the game he shows me the video, make those runs. He has helped me a lot with this, every time after training or every time after a game he will say, 'It's very important, nobody can stop you.' It's hard to make this run, because you have to stay, you have to control."
At half-time, City looked on course to clinch the title after goals from Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan put the home side 2-0 up. But United battled back to hand Mourinho a first Manchester derby victory in the Premier League thanks to Pogba's double and Chris Smalling's winner.
Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to overtake City next season, but he rejected the suggestion this result laid down an early marker.
"I don't think so," he said. "Honestly, I don't think so. It's an important victory, it's a good victory, I think deserved, but I don't see more than that.
"I was telling before the game we need points to finish top four and to finish second, we won points probably in the most difficult place to get points, in a stadium where they won practically every match in the Premier League.
"Next season we have to improve even more, because this season we improved in relation to last season, more points and more victories, more goals scored, less goals conceded, better results against the top five teams, we improved at every level, but it was not enough.
"That's why I congratulate Manchester City, because they are going to win the title and deserve to win the title."
Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.