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17th of January 2018

Sport



Beating Paul Pogba and Man Utd will console me for all video-game losses - Magnusson

Bristol City’s Icelandic international Magnusson became a friend, Playstation rival, interpreter and team-mate of Pogba when he joined Juventus in 2012.

Magnusson, who was in Juve’s youth academy at the time, never had a chance to play in the senior side alongside Pogba but they had plenty of “virtual” action – and he almost always ended up on the losing side.

Now he is looking forward to a reunion and revenge when France midfielder Pogba returns from a three-game ban to help Manchester United avoid a Carabao Cup quarter-final exit at Ashton Gate.

“We become good friends straight away when we were at Juventus,” said defender Magnusson, 24, the same age as Pogba. “When I arrived at Juventus I trained with him on my first day and he was really welcoming to me which meant a lot.

“He didn’t speak Italian but I did so I helped him and I speak English so that helped us get along fine and I tried to help him get into Italian football.

“I spent a lot of time with Paul at home, just hanging out, enjoying life, playing PlayStation and NBA on the Xbox. He always seemed to win but it was still fun.

“We bumped into each other after the France-Iceland game at the Euros which was nice.”

Magnusson insists Pogba is vital to United’s hopes of success this season for his creativity, running power and aerial power.

“I know I’m biased because I’m good friends with Paul but I think every team in the world would want a player as good as him,” he said.

“I know he might not be like Ronaldo or Messi who would be their top scorer but he can give the team many goals and a lot more as well because he is such a top all-round player.

“He has great all-round qualities, he is young, he is tall so he can win lots in the air but he has lots of energy, pace and he’s very skilful.

“He is good fun when he’s not playing but he’s very serious when he is working. He is a genuine team player and the team always comes first with him. He is very humble and always wanting to learn from the coaches and team-mates, especially those who have more experience than him.”

City are third in the Championship and their manager Lee Johnson has promised to give Jose Mourinho a vintage welcome off the pitch but is still out to make it a miserable night for the Manchester United boss.

Johnson has splashed out on an expensive bottle of Mourinho’s favourite red wine to toast him after the game but says the five-star treatment will not extend to the touchline.

He said: “I am a young gun slinger coming in against the likes of Jose but I have purchased an extremely expensive bottle of wine I have heard he likes.

“The wine has cost me a fortune and I had to raid my little girl’s piggy bank so she won’t be getting a Christmas present now!

“It is a Portuguese red so hopefully I can seduce him into the office for five or 10 minutes and pick his brain about one or two things. But in the technical area he will be just another manager. We won’t be on awe of them. We are in good form in the league and will be a challenge for them.”

Meanwhile Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set for a recall tonight and a chance to save his United career.

The Armenian international has not featured in eight of the last nine match day squads after Mourinho accused him of “disappearing from games.”

Mourinho said: “I am going to make a few changes and it is possible ‘Micki’ could be involved. But not many changes because Bristol City are one of the best teams in the Championship and for me now the Championship is not the Championship of five or 10 years ago.

“The Championship is now high quality teams with lots of players that could be playing in the Premier League easily. So we need to take the game really seriously.”

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