By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said on Tuesday he had stripped France midfielder Paul Pogba of his vice-captain’s role at the club but denied there was a rift between the pair.
“The only truth is that I made the decision that Paul will not be a second (vice) captain anymore but no fallout, no problems at all,” Mourinho said after his team were knocked out of the League Cup on penalties by second-tier Derby County.
Mourinho had rested 25-year-old Pogba for Tuesday’s game along with several other players.
The Portuguese declined to give a reason for his decision to take the United vice-captaincy away from the World Cup winner.
“The same person that decides Paul is not second captain anymore is exactly the same person that decides Paul was second captain — myself.
“I am the manager, I can make these decisions. No fallout, no problems at all just one decision that I don’t have to explain,” he said.
Pogba has been United’s stand-in captain for three games when regular skipper Antonio Valencia has been missing.
England wing-back Ashley Young was named captain for the Derby game at Old Trafford, which United lost 8-7 in a shootout after a 2-2 draw to exit in the third round.
Pogba was critical of United’s tactics in Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanders, saying the team should be more attack-minded.
The midfielder moved to Old Trafford in 2016 from Juventus in a $114 million transfer deal and has been linked by the media with another big-money move, to Barcelona.
In August, Pogba said that he feared he would be fined if he spoke about his feelings at United.
(Additional reporting by Christian Radnedge; editing by Ken Ferris)