Premier League

He arrived happy, with a desire to work: Jose Mourinho denies rift with Paul Pogba

The midfield ace’s future at Manchester United has been a subject of speculation over the last week.

Jose Mourinho insists Paul Pogba remains happy and motivated at Manchester United despite reports claiming the France star is unsettled and wants to join Barcelona.

Following a successful summer in which he helped France to win the World Cup, Pogba’s future at United has been the subject of speculation over the last week of the Premier League transfer window.

It is understood United officials have grown increasingly weary and suspicious of Pogba’s high-profile agent Mino Raiola, whom they blame for stories that his client would prefer to play for Barcelona.

The former Juventus midfielder was among a handful of United players who only returned to pre-season training on Monday, after their countries advanced to the World Cup semi-finals.

But Mourinho insists that while he will talk to Pogba before deciding when exactly to re-introduce him to competitive first team action, he has been happy with his attitude and first few days back in training in Manchester.

“My perception is he arrived on Monday, happy, proud, with a desire to work,” Mourinho said ahead of Friday’s opening Premier League fixture against Leicester. “He worked amazingly well Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. He’s one of the players that I have to speak to see how physically and mentally he feels.

“But it’s the same conversation as with (Ashley) Young, (Marouane) Fellaini, (Jesse) Lingard, it’s the same. To know how they feel physically mentally to try to give us a help. If they feel they can help us, 20 minutes, 10 minutes (or) half an hour. We don’t have many solutions and want to go with everything we have. I see him very well but we need words with that small group to see if they can give us a hand.”

Another player who has come through an uncertain summer with United is Anthony Martial, who was left out of France’s World Cup squad, prompting comments from his agent that he wished to leave Old Trafford to safeguard his international future.

While the United hierarchy is known to be reluctant to sell the young striker, Mourinho has endured a trying time in his relationship with Martial after he left United’s American pre-season tour to attend the birth of his child and did not return – missing nine days of training.

Close scrutiny

That will hardly have endeared Martial, who was left out of the weekend friendly against Bayern Munich, to Mourinho, although the manager insisted that omission was not a punishment.

“He didn’t have a pre-season, three days of pre-season,” Mourinho said. “He had nine days of pre-season where no training, no football, absolutely nothing. He’s in the group of players who didn’t have a pre season, it’s as simple as that.

“You try to make a case and there is no case in it. For nine days he didn’t train. so he’s to start again. When you are nine days without one minute of training or football, you go back and start with the other people. There is not a story.”

Mourinho’s relationship with players like Pogba and Martial has come under close scrutiny, as have the manager’s mood swings over the club’s failure to complete key signings he wanted in the transfer window.

But Mourinho, entering his third season in charge at Old Trafford, claimed, in typically confrontational fashion, that there are no problems in his squad or in his commitment to the club.

“I have my players and I like my players, I like to work with my players,” said Mourinho.

“One lie repeated 1,000 times is still a lie, but the perception of people is that it’s true. When you repeat 1,000 times that my relationship with my players is not good, it’s a lie, repeated 1,000 times is still a lie. I like my players and my group. I’m going to enjoy this season.”

“I know the words you want me to say or not to say but words don’t come easy. By the end of November or December, you don’t need words, you’ll see by then which teams are candidates to win the Premier League.”

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.