Jose Mourinho launched a staunch defence of Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive player, ahead of the Europa League clash against Rostov.
Pogba returned to Old Trafford in August to an enormous fanfare and huge cost, with Juventus potentially receiving 110million euros (Â£93.25million) for the midfielder.
However, the 24-year-old has flattered to deceive at times since returning to United and criticism peaked following an underwhelming display in Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Chelsea.
Few gave Mourinho’s claims that he was the ”best player on the pitch” much credence but the Portuguese has now hit back at the criticisms from some onlookers.
”I feel that the world is losing values and we all know that,” he said ahead of United’s Europa League last-16 second leg at home to the Russian side.
”And envy is coming to certain levels that I’m scared, especially with the next generations, if things go in this direction.
”It’s not Paul’s fault that he gets 10 times the money that some players – some very good players – did in the past.
”It is not his fault that some of the pundits, they are in real trouble with their lives and they need every coin to survive and Paul is a multi-millionaire.
”I think he deserves, I think his family deserves respect.”
”I am very happy with Paul, the club is very happy with Paul and I think also a good thing is that because of his personality he doesn’t give an ‘S’ to what people says.”
Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney will not figure in the Old Trafford return against Rostov, with United 3-0 ahead and firm favourites to claim a place in the quarter-finals.
Martial trained on Wednesday but has not done enough to convince his boss he can feature.
Mourinho said: “He was injured for the Chelsea match, he couldn’t be selected for the Chelsea match.”
There was no sign of Rooney at Wednesday’s training session after he sustained a knock in a training-ground collision with Phil Jones, and Mourinho confirmed that he is still receiving treatment.
“He’s injured,” Mourinho said. “It was some kick in his knee area so he can’t even come out to the pitch. He stays inside with the medical department.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available because his three-game ban only applies to domestic fixtures and the Swede’s presence at least offers Mourinho an alternative in attack.
Marcus Rashford played that role at Stamford Bridge despite suffering from a bout of illness.