There was a strange feeling of awkwardness when Jose Mourinho subbed on Paul Pogba after just 17 minutes at Sevilla on Wednesday.
The Special One had made the brave decision to drop his most expensive player for a crucial Champions League away day in favour of the 21-year-old Scott McTominay. It was a controversial move that came in the heat of reported tensions between the two.
As a result, when Ander Herrera hobbled off the pitch in Andalusia, Manchester United fans didn't really know how to react when Mourinho hailed Pogba from the bench.
There was a mix of happiness that their star man was finally on the pitch and also worry surrounding Pogba's defensive play in recent weeks.
Besides, for all his impressive performances this season, his showings against the likes of Tottenham and Burnley have left a lot to be desired.
Difficult recent form for Paul Pogba
The 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United wasn't a proud afternoon for the Frenchman, either.
Matt Ritchie scored the winning goal in a victory for Toon that left their opposition in a real dogfight for a position in the top four. Pogba was substituted in the 66th minute, just seconds after the goal in which he stood statuesque as Newcastle profited from a free-kick.
It was an episode that wasn't forgotten by Mourinho, either, who was spotted advising Pogba on later free-kicks - like the one taken at Newcastle - just before he was subbed on at Sevilla.
Mourinho gives Newcastle-related advice to Pogba
A report on the Manchester Evening News revealed: "The United boss had some very strict instructions for Pogba when he replaced Ander Herrera after 17 minutes.
"Pictures show Mourinho going through a booklet of diagrams with the Frenchman showing him his role for lateral free kicks.
"Mourinho was furious with his players after they conceded from a free kick in the defeat against Newcastle in the league and he made sure they didn’t become unstuck by the same thing."
Whether that was meant solely for Pogba or his teammates received the same treatment, too, is unknown but it can be viewed as both inspired coaching and paranoid, last minute advice.
Thankfully, lateral free-kicks didn't prove a sticking point for the Red Devils on this occasion and Pogba passed through the game relatively unscathed.
Nevertheless, you still get the feeling that all isn't well between star player and manager, especially with the latter having no shame in highlighting the former's weaknesses.
Only time will tell who bows to the other's wishes first.
Do you think Paul Pogba is being treated unfairly? Have your say in the comments section below.
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