Gary Neville has claimed Paul Pogba’s controversial social media post was designed to “dance on the grave” of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United tenure.
Pogba posted “Caption this!” alongside a picture of himself adopting a knowing look on social media in the immediate wake of Mourinho’s sacking as manager on Tuesday.
That post was quickly deleted, but former United and England defender Neville criticised Pogba’s actions as “out of order”.
United sacked Mourinho after their worst-ever start to a Premier League season of 26 points from 17 games, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer favourite to step in as caretaker boss until the end of the campaign.
“He’s a huge talent, I actually liked him when he was at the club as a kid,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“It’s not a personal thing, but Paul Pogba there’s no doubt has fallen out with the manager – doesn’t believe in him, doesn’t like him, doesn’t think he’s a good coach probably.
“And vice versa Jose Mourinho doesn’t think Paul Pogba is as talented a player as he thinks he is.
“So there’s been a complete breakdown probably in the last 12 months and there’s no doubt there’s a high level of dislike there.
“However, Jose Mourinho lost his job this morning, and Paul Pogba and his people put that Instagram post out.
“I don’t fall for this coincidence, scheduled Tweet nonsense, it’s garbage, absolute garbage.
“I think he probably would have liked to have gone public earlier, on Jose Mourinho, I think he would have liked to have gone public a lot earlier on how the club is at this moment in time.
“But on Jose Mourinho’s side I bet when Paul Pogba won the World Cup in the summer, I bet he thought he was coming back to an impossible situation, where basically he thought, ‘This player’s going to be out of control now’.
“Manchester United are a better team with Paul Pogba in it, but I do believe that, this morning, to dance on the grave of the manager who’s just been sacked is out of order.”
Darren Fletcher backed up Neville’s criticism of Pogba, as pundits centred on the France World Cup winner’s behaviour at Old Trafford this term.
“I don’t think he’s conducted himself well recently, and I think he needs a kick up the backside,” former United midfielder Fletcher told BBC Radio Five Live.
“And I think his post today, whether it was his team or whatever, it was totally out of order. That’s a big concern for me.
“Everybody talked about, ‘Who’s going to go, is it going to be Pogba or Mourinho’.
“Now, if Pogba starts thinking that he’s bigger than Mourinho, there’s your next problem.
“Somebody needs to get control of Paul Pogba and say, ‘Listen, this hasn’t been a battle between Mourinho and Pogba and you’ve won, you’ve got to go and prove yourself now’.
“And a manager’s got to come in there and demand more from him, to lead this team forward.”
Fletcher criticised United’s hierarchy for potentially setting up an extended period of limbo before settling on their long-term managerial appointment.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino’s name has already been floated as a permanent long-term replacement for Mourinho – and Fletcher tipped the Argentinian for the Old Trafford helm.
“I do worry about the fact you’re basically writing off two seasons,” said Fletcher. “You’re appointing a manager next summer. There’s a real concern you could almost have two seasons of building again.
“Manchester United should never be in this position. And it’s mismanagement at the top level.
“Pochettino has had issues with players and he’s dealt with it fantastically. He deals with big characters at Spurs, there’s been a few bits and pieces like contract rebels and things like that. And he seems to have sorted that out.
“So he ticks all the boxes of experience in the Premier League.
“If Manchester United come calling, that’s big to turn down. I know you can say Real Madrid, but the worry about Real Madrid is, they change their manager every year.
“He could have the chance to be at Manchester United for a long period of time, settle there and build something fantastic.
“Manchester United have the backing, the resources and a plan that would incorporate winning the Premier League. I’m not sure Spurs’ plan involves winning the Premier League.”
Former Liverpool star Graeme Souness was another to round on Pogba, challenging the ex-Juventus star to change his attitude.
“Paul Pogba has been a major disappointment to Manchester United, and he really needs to have a close look at himself,” Souness told Sky Sports. “He could be a fabulous player, but it’s obvious he wasn’t getting on with the manager.
“There’s a player you should be building your team around.
“He’s got all the qualities to be a fabulous football player, except that real desire to be one. I think he’s got caught up in all the hype surrounding big players in football today.”