• Serie A

Pogba opens up on showdown with Sir Alex

ESPN staff
May 28, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »

Paul Pogba has revealed he faced Sir Alex Ferguson's infamous 'hairdryer' treatment after telling the former Manchester United boss he wanted to quit Old Trafford, and criticised the Scot for merely paying lip service to his potential.

Hailed as a prospect of enormous promise when he arrived at United from Le Havre in 2009, Pogba, 20, featured in just three Premier League matches and seven competitive first-team games, all as a substitute, before deciding to swap Manchester for Turin and the prospect of more playing time at Juventus.

"He shouted. He told me: 'Where are you going? You're going to Juve in Italy, is that it? There's a lot of racism'. I told him: 'It's not a problem, there's racism everywhere'," Pogba explained to France Football, recounting the moment he informed his former manager of his decision in late March 2012.

"He told me: 'The supporters aren't like in England'. I told him: 'I want to play, and it's not for the fans, it's because I want to play to improve and gain experience.' He told me 'Okay', and after that, I was never included in the squad."

Though the relationship ended sourly, Ferguson had initially spoken eloquently of Pogba's talent. The midfielder, who downplayed suggestions his move was financially motivated by claiming he would have earned more at United, blamed his ex-manager for forcing him into taking the decision to quit United in order to further his career.

"I'm impatient. Even if I was quite patient, Alex Ferguson told me: 'You're a whisker away from playing ... You're a youngster from the academy, you're not ready yet. You must be patient. Scholes was, Giggs was.' I'm not Giggs, I'm not Scholes. I really wanted to play," Pogba explained.

"I said: 'Okay, no problem.' If I'm not ready, perhaps I'll be ready elsewhere. I at least felt ready to have more playing time. He didn't show me enough that he wanted me in his squad. Even if he said some nice things about me, about my potential, if you don't show it, it's all just hot air.

"It all depends on what you have in your head. If you want to play at Manchester just to be able to say 'I play at United', even though you're on the bench, are you happy? I came on a few times, I played in the cups, but I wanted to have more playing time. If I could have played in China, I would have gone to China."

It will be of cold comfort to Ferguson that since moving to Juve, Pogba has been proven right. Assured displays in 27 Serie A games in which he helped the Bianconeri secure the title also earned him promotion from France's Under-20 side to the senior set-up and an international debut under Didier Deschamps.

Pogba praised Juve coach Antonio Conte for staying true to his word in affording him time on the pitch as well as pushing all the right buttons to get the very best out of him.

"He [Conte] told me: 'With me, there's no youth, it's the best who plays. If you think you can establish yourself here, come, and we'll see if you're able to do it, show us what you can do.' He pushed me, he struck where it was needed to convince me. I like being given challenges like that. I like indirect provocation," said Pogba.

"That's my goal: to be the best in my position, then the best in Europe and then the world. That's what I want to do, what I would like to do."

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