Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba says his recent upturn in form has been helped by manager Jose Mourinho letting him “free” on the pitch.
The 23-year-old France international started slowly after rejoining United for a £89m world-record fee last summer, but he has been instrumental in United’s recent nine-match winning run.
“He told me not to listen to anybody, and that I should just be focused on the pitch and enjoy yourself. That is all I am doing,” Pogba said.
Expectations were high following Pogba’s return to Old Trafford from Italian champions Juventus in August, but it is only in recent weeks that his influence on the team has gradually increased.
He has scored and assisted a total of five more goals in United’s past 10 games compared to his tally in their first 10 games.
Pogba says this is down to the reassurance and guidance given by Mourinho.
“He talked to me. He made me very comfortable and confident,” said Pogba, who made seven appearances for United before joining Juventus for £1.5m in 2012.
“He said `you know how to play, do what you want’. He let me free on the pitch.
“He told me just to enjoy myself. That is it. That is all I need to hear from the manager.’’
The Red Devils host arch-rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday, starting the game in sixth position and 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.
Mourinho, 53, made a mixed start to his reign after succeeding Louis van Gaal, winning the Community Shield and his opening three league matches.
But he was soon to lose three games in a row in September.
However, a nine-match winning run in all competitions — six in the Premier League —- has closed the gap on the top four to just three points.
And Pogba insists overhauling Chelsea is still not out of the question.
“You have to believe. We are not far,’’ he said.
“I know Chelsea are at the top but this is the Premier League, you never know what is going to happen. You have to keep fighting and believing. Inside I feel we can still win the league.
“The team is getting better and better. We all know each other now so we feel much better than we did at the start of the season.’’