Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has claimed that Paul Pogba's form in the World Cup was due to the tournament format rather than France's style of play.
Pogba faced criticism for his performances under Mourinho at United last season, but the midfielder was among the World Cup's standout performers, crowning his tournament with a goal in France's 4-2 win over Croatia in the final.
A number of pundits suggested that the 25-year-old was allowed to flourish with France more so than he was at United, but Mourinho believes that the reason behind the difference in performance level lies with the player.
"I don't think it's about us getting the best out of him. It's about him giving the best he has to give. I think the World Cup is the perfect habitat for a player like him to give the best. Why? Because it's closed for a month, where he can only think about football," Mourinho told ESPN.
"Where he's with his team on the training camp, completely isolated from the external world, where they focus just on football, where the dimensions of the game can only motivate. During a season, you can have a big match then a smaller match, then one even smaller, then you can lose your focus, you can lose your concentration, then comes a big match again.
"In the World Cup, the direction of the emotion, of the responsibility, of the big decisions is always growing up. You are in the group phase, you go to the last 16, to the quarter-finals, to the semi-finals, to the finals. This feeds the motivation. This feeds the concentration of a player. So I think it was the perfect environment for him."
Former Juventus star Pogba is currently enjoying some downtime in LA, where his teammates will take on AC Milan on Thursday, but he has not yet returned to training.
Mourinho added: "I think players in the World Cup, they really feel that extra commitment with a country, with the people, that extra responsibility that makes them - by the emotional point of view - to be sometimes even over-committed.
"So they play for the team, and only for the team, and the team is the most important thing, and they do everything to try to succeed. So I think it's the perfect environment for a talented player like him to focus, to fully focus on the job."
United's clash with Real Madrid on August 1 will come too soon for Pogba, with him and several of the club's World Cup stars in the balance to feature against Leicester City in their Premier League opener on Friday, August 10.body check tags ::