Paul Pogba returned to Manchester United in the summer of 2016 from Juventus for a big fee and with big expectations placed on his shoulders. The Frenchman’s return coupled with the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and boss Jose Mourinho was supposed to help the Red Devils return to the glory days.
However, the midfielder has experienced a mixed return to Manchester and been on the end of heavy criticism at times during his second stint in English football.
Influential in France winning the World Cup
Pogba was influential in France winning the World Cup. In fact, he scored in Les Bleus 4-2 final win over Croatia. The 25-year-old played a more simple game for the French in a very well disciplined France team.
He did not try anything flamboyant but did the basics right. The midfielder even sported a somewhat more conventional hairstyle in Russia, as he helped his national team to become world champions for only the second time in history.
Pogba may have kept things simple, but his quality and character shone through in the French team. He let his football do the talking. His reward was a World Cup winner’s medal.
Pogba is best when he gets forward
For all the criticism of Pogba in the last few years, there have still some standout displays from the French star. Most of those standout moments were of Pogba getting forward from deep and having an influence in the opposition box.
Pogba is seen as a box-to-box midfielder, mainly because he has all the attributes to be the complete central midfielder. Despite the fact he is considered a box-to-box player, Pogba is often criticised for his goal output.
The former Juventus man is often criticised for not scoring enough or creating enough goals. However, as he has rightly stated in the past, other central midfielders are not judged purely on goals and creating goals.
I remember he cited his French international teammate N’Golo Kante in one interview, saying he does not get goals, but that Kante is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League because of the defensive job he does for the team.
Pogba comes across as a confident guy. However, it is evident that the criticism angers and frustrates him in his interviews. Ironically, Pogba shone for France playing in central midfielder, but for me, he is at his best marauding forward.
An excellent example of Pogba at his best was when he scored a brace for United against arch-rivals Manchester City in a 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium. City were two goals up, but two early second-half goals from Pogba turned the game.
That is the sort of impact he is expected to have in every game, just because of who he is and how much he cost United. Maybe next season we will see the best of Pogba in a United shirt.
United face a tough challenge to win the title
Manchester United will be expected to challenge for the Premier League title in the new season. However, the Red Devils are currently odds of 13/2 to finish next season as champions, third favourites behind their two bitter rivals Liverpool and of course champions Manchester City.
The fact that Liverpool are shorter odds for the title is mostly due to their seemingly excellent business in the transfer market, with the arrivals of Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri. Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker will also complete a big money move once he has passed a medical in the next couple of days.
Some may see United’s signings as underwhelming compared to the Reds. The Red Devils will certainly face a tough challenge to win the title that is for sure. However, if Pogba can put aside a reportedly uneasy relationship with boss Jose Mourinho, then his performances could be the catalyst for a return to glory for the men from Manchester in the coming season’s.
Can Paul Pogba thrive at Manchester United next season?
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