Michael Ballack lifts lid on how Paul Pogba should handle criticism from Jose Mourinho

The 25-year-old's relationship with the Portuguese coach has become increasingly fractious following a succession of incidents across the last six months.

Mourinho slammed Pogba during the World Cup for his inability to replicate his performances for France when he plays for United.

He then stripped the ex-Juventus man of the vice-captaincy after deeming the player did not have the club's best interests at heart.

And following an ill-timed social media post in the wake of the Carabao Cup defeat to Derby, Mourinho publicly reprimanded Pogba during a training session.

The series of incidents has led to rumours the Frenchman could re-join Juve, with agent Mino Raiola keen on taking his client away from Old Trafford.

But former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack – who played under Mourinho for 16 months at Stamford Bridge – says the scorn directed Pogba's way is not personal.

The ex-Germany international told FourFourTwo: “If you work with Jose Mourinho, you have character and you're strong – you should enjoy it.

“I enjoyed it, because it was always challenging.

“I don't want to say that he will test you, but if he criticises players, he's doing that for a reason.

“It's not unusual for a coach to criticise players in the media – it doesn't matter who it is. For high-paid players, it's your job and you have to deal with criticism, even from a coach.

“Sometimes players are so sensitive because they're mostly superstars, but they're part of a team.

“They have to understand how a team works and how to be successful in a team.

“Sometimes I had to personally step back a bit and if I got criticised, it was sometimes not against me. It's a normal process. Don't pay too much attention to that and [don’t] take it personally.

“Of course, big players are involved so sometimes it's a difficult situation, if it's Pogba and Mourinho.

“But from my experience of how he handles relationships with big players, with the leaders in the team, Mourinho is experienced and he knows to handle these kinds of players; how to support them.

“He knows that if he wants to be successful, he needs the big players behind him.

“He's handled them in the past because he had success – he won the Champions League with two different teams, he won the league in different countries. There aren't many coaches who have that experience.”

Mourinho's demeanour this season is a far cry from his manner during his two spells at Chelsea, where he labelled himself as the "special one" upon his arrival in English football.

Despite spending £382.5million in two-and-a-half years at United, the ex-Real Madrid coach believes he has not been backing properly in the transfer window.

Attempts to sign a new centre-back in the summer were blocked by the club's hierarchy, leading to Mourinho attacking the club for what he perceives is a lack of support.

United have gone on to endure a nightmare start to the season and following the derby defeat to Manchester City they trail Pep Guardiola's Premier League leaders by 12 points in the table after a dozen games.

And Ballack feels that Mourinho finds it difficult to operate when those above him are not fully committed to his plans.

He added: “I always felt in the relationship we had at Chelsea, if he feels the support from the fans, he pays that back and he pays it back with everything he has.

“It sometimes isn't easy under him, but he knows how to win matches and he knows how to handle difficult situations – even if some people love him and some people don't.

“What's important for him is that the club and the people he works with support him, and there's trust. That's really important for him to be successful.

“Sometimes there's a difficult situation and sometimes he's not easy but this is part of Jose Mourinho; that's what you get if you appoint him.

“There are always strong personalities at big clubs, especially Manchester United, and they should handle that.”

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