Tranmere Rovers
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Manchester UnitedManchester United
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Jose Mourinho calls Paul Pogba's substitute appearance 'positive'

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said Paul Pogba had a "positive performance" on his return to the team.

Pogba, who missed the weekend win over Huddersfield due to illness, was only named on the bench for the 0-0 draw with Sevilla but was forced into action after just 17 minutes when Ander Herrera suffered a hamstring injury.

Mourinho was also full of praise for 21-year-old midfielder Scott McTominay, who put in an assured display in the centre of the team.

"I think he [McTominay] was fantastic, he did everything well," Mourinho said. "He put lots of pressure on [Ever] Banega which was important to stop him to play, their playmaker. He was always comfortable, simple, saving in possession. I think he was brilliant.

"In my pre-match interview I had four questions and three were about Paul, that's a bit strange and respecting you and your work, I understand your question but if I was one of you I would ask if the Manchester United manager agrees McTominay had a fantastic performance and my answer would be yes.

"He looked a senior player, with tactical sense, good responsibility, good in possession, he looked like a man with dozens and dozens of matches in the Champions League."

Asked if he was relieved with the result, Mourinho replied: "No, not relieved. The game was even. The stats are what it is. I feel the result reflects what the game was."

Mourinho also seemed to question the United medical staff after Herrera's early withdrawal, saying: "I think it is a bad injury.

"He had a small injury that stopped him for the last couple of matches but the medical department gave him 100 percent ready for Saturday.

"We didn't play him to give more work and more protection but it looks like he wasn't fully fit.

"The medical department gave him fully fit. He trained Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and he looked fit.

"The way he was playing he showed that intensity that is only possible when you are fit, he was pressing really high.

"The backheel creates the contraction in the muscle and now we have proof he was not 100 percent fit."

It was a frustrating night for Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez -- but Mourinho again hit back at pundits who have suggested he should give his attacking players more freedom.

He added: "In England some guys say the wingers shouldn't defend.

"The next time I see David Beckham I am going to ask him when you played right wing for Manchester United, when the left-back attacked do you stay looking in the stands or track back?

"Everybody knows I am not a big friend of [Roy] Keane or [Paul] Scholes but I will ask them if they tracked back.

"All of the players look like they have to be free when they don't have the ball, when the team has the ball you attack, when you don't defend and it looks like some guys now are creating a new sport.

"The winning teams, the top teams in the world now, everybody works and has tactical discipline."

Nonetheless, the Man United manager is confident that Old Trafford will get behind his team in three weeks to earn a quarterfinal spot.

"At Old Trafford if we draw with goals we are out, if we win by any result we are through," he added. "Is that difficult? Yes. It is a match in our house, I believe that Old Trafford misses a big European night. Of course last season we had quarterfinal, semifinal, but Europa League which has a different meaning.

"The year before we didn't play in Champions League so I think Old Trafford miss this and it can create a similar atmosphere that we had here today and push us through a difficult match, but we just need to win."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.


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