English Premier League

Paul Pogba posts cryptic Instagram message after Jose Mourinho exit – then deletes it; Pochettino favourite to take over

  • The Frenchman has had a tense relationship with the former Manchester United manager
  • World Cup winner Pogba has recently been forced to kick his heels on the United bench
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 8:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, 8:29pm

Manchester United’s most expensive player, Paul Pogba, posted a cryptic message online about Jose Mourinho’s firing – then swiftly deleted it.

Pogba wrote on Instagram “Caption this!” alongside a picture of him smirking quizzically into the camera.

The breakdown of Pogba’s relationship with Mourinho has mirrored United’s decline this season.

One of the world’s most talented midfielders, Pogba didn’t even get off the bench in one of the biggest matches of the season against Liverpool on Sunday when United lost 3-1.

Pogba was one of Mourinho’s first signings, returning to United in 2016 for £105 million (HK$927 million).

But although he has shown flashes of brilliance, Pogba has failed to fit into Mourinho’s side and the relationship between the two gradually deteriorated until the Portuguese was finally sacked on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino emerged on Tuesday as hot favourite to succeed Mourinho.

Pochettino has been seen as a long-term target for United because of his preference for attacking football and nurturing young talent, neither of which has been much in evidence at the club since the departure of Alex Ferguson in 2013.

With the Portuguese gone, United may make their move for the Spurs boss, who has taken his club to consecutive finishes in the top three but has yet to bring a trophy to North London.

The Argentine was offered at odds of 2/1 against – meaning one chance in three – within minutes of United announcing Mourinho’s sacking.

Pochettino is closely followed at 4/1 against – or one chance in five – by former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, who led the Spanish side to three successive Champions League titles.

Former United midfielder Michael Carrick, now a coach at the club, is quoted at 10/1, just behind former Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim, on 9/1.

It may be strange for some United fans to countenance but former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is at 20/1, the same as Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe.

United said they would appoint a caretaker while conducting a thorough recruitment process for a new full-time manager. Italian Antonio Conte (12/1) is out of work and previously succeeded Mourinho at Chelsea, going on to win the title.

Pochettino would be an expensive capture as he signed a new five-year deal at Spurs this year reportedly worth around 8.5 million pounds ($11 million).

The Tottenham coach also said last week that he was happy at the club and looking forward to leading them into their new stadium next year.

Mourinho’s successor might not be leading a team in the Champions League next season, with United 11 points behind fourth-place Chelsea approaching the midpoint of the Premier League.

Associated Press, Reuters