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Pogba fires Man City a huge warning ahead of derby despite red card

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Paul Pogba is gutted to miss the Manchester derby – but insists United can still win it without him.
The France midfielder says there was no malice his challenge on Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin that earned him the red card and three-game ban that rules him out of Sunday’s eagerly-awaited showdown between the Premier League’s top two.

But he admits the tackle looked worse than it actually was because Bellerin didn’t stay on his feet in the challenge but stuck out his leg as Pogba over-stretched.

Speaking for the first time about the controversial incident following Manchester United’s Champions League win over CSKA Moscow, Pogba said: “I know Hector and I would never give him a tackle like this.

“Unfortunately for me I thought he would put his feet [into the tackle] and he was in a position that was a disadvantage for me.

“It looks very bad but the intention wasn’t like that. The referee gave me the red card and that’s football.
“I’m very disappointed to miss the derby because when you are in football you really want to play in these games.

“I really want to help the team and wanted to be there because obviously we are playing City and in this moment we need points and we need to win. It’s an important moment, an important game so, like I say, I’m disappointed.

“Unfortunately for me I won’t play. That’s destiny. I say destiny because I cannot go back in the past. You have to think about the future, the present, obviously, and then after it’s the future.”

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Pogba’s absence will be a huge blow for Jose Mourinho’s team. Their form dipped when he missed two months with a torn hamstring earlier this season. Since he returned to the team they have won five out of six matches and scored 14 goals.

But Pogba believes United can still emerge triumphant from what is a ‘must-win’ game for them if they are to have nay hope of reeling in unbeaten City’s eight-point lead.

He added: “I have complete trust in the team. Even if I am not there, I will be there watching the game giving positive energy and hopefully we are going to win. Mentally, I need to be there to boost the team and hopefully it will help.”
Pogba says it was vital United continued their momentum heading into the derby with the 2-1 win over CSKA that secured top spot in their Champions League group.

“It was important to go through in the Champions League,” he said. “Obviously we need the positive energy for Sunday against City so it was a case of keep winning, keep feeling this. We’ve done it so we are happy.

“Can we catch them? If I don’t believe we can I stop playing football now.

“It’s a big derby and the atmosphere is going to be big. We want to win and we need to win as well. They need to win because they know that we are behind and we are closing and closing.

“Manchester City against Manchester United has always been a big, big derby. One city, two clubs. You know how it is so I won’t tell you what is going to happen.

 

“It’s going to be a big atmosphere in the stadium and a big game with a big team and big players so that’s the game you want to play. Unfortunately I won’t play but I will be there to help the team mentally.”
Something has to give on Sunday because United have won all 11 home games in three different competitions this season while City have won all 10 of their away matches.

Mourinho has often been criticised for a cautious approach when facing title rivals in the past but Pogba says United must attack City.

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“We need to,” he said. “To win those game you need to give everything. You need to be there offensively and defensively. Kill the game when you have one chance because they are City and they have quality as well in front and they can kill the game at any time.

“They are first for good reason because they have been doing great at the start of the season. They keep winning, they haven’t lost one game, and obviously mentally they are very strong. We need to be as good as they are mentally.”

Pogba was delighted that Romelu Lukaku ended a barren run with the first goal against CSKA – it was only the second time the Belgium striker has found the net in 13 appearances. Another positive for United was that Marcus Rashford scored for the first time in 10 appearances.

“For a striker to score a goal, it gives him positive energy as well,” said Pogba. “He [Lukaku] needed this. He deserves it because he’s been working very hard for the team. We know how important he is for us and we are going to need him for the derby.”

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