Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Is Paul Pogba Manchester United’s Biggest Problem?

Milos Markovic in Editorial, English Premier League 23 Feb 2018

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To cut to the chase right from the start – NO, he isn’t! Why? Let us dwell on that.

It wasn’t too long after Sir Alex Ferguson had let Paul Pogba leave for Juventus for pocket change money that general football public labelled such a decision as one of the biggest mistakes in Manchester United legendary manager’s entire career.

Sir Alex would not let ego of then still a rather obscure young boy compromise his Manchester United structure despite the endless talent of the French prodigy.

Was he wrong?

The early signs sure suggested so. For what we’ve seen from Paul Pogba in his four-year stint with the Serie A giants was a talented boy turn into a world-class footballer – a leader both on and off the pitch – whose talent and quality were out to dazzle.

Silky skills and terrific technique were followed by impressive vision and creativity that made Paul Pogba one of the best roaming midfielders in the world. He enjoyed in an advanced role upfield towards the frontline and displayed the ability to create brilliance for his teammates and himself alike.

Powerful shots, defence-splitting passes and moves that would take your breath away all accounted for a £89 price Manchester United were tempted to splash out to get the prodigal son back home.

With Sir Alex Ferguson watching grudgingly from the gallery this time, Paul Pogba took his big ego and a newly promoted image of a football + fashion + pop icon with him back to England, eager to prove the old man wrong at the Theatre of Dreams.

Pogba was signed on a promise to be made a centrepiece of the new Manchester United.

As arguably the most talented player in a star-studded Manchester United squad, Paul Pogba can be blamed of underperforming and failing to meet the expectations. But he shouldn’t be judged.


It’s quite simple actually when you look at things the other way around. Paul Pogba is expected to do things he isn’t capable of. And that’s where the blame should be pointed towards Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager would surely wrap your hands around you – not in an affectionate hug BT Sport reporter Des Kelly got after the Sevilla stalemate  – but rather in attempt to struggle you on the mention of defensive-oriented, boring football, bus-parking and open-play strangulation.

Nevertheless, all of these can be listed as ‘crimes’ Mourinho is guilty of at Manchester United.

Instead of harnessing his talent and unleashing the potential by building the run of play around Paul Pogba, Jose Mourinho is pulling the reins on the Frenchman’s creativity and skill – thus undoubtedly curbing his self-confidence as well.

Pogba is Underused

Jose Mourinho is right in one thing – all players should make equal effort to help in defence and take the ball away from rivals when they have it – but restricting Paul Pogba’s influence on guarding the likes of Ever Banega and playing simple, short and safe paces deep in midfield in not something Paul Pogba is cut out to do.

Having mentioned the word ‘boring’ in description of Manchester United’s style this season we can use it to dwell on another important aspect of Red Devil’s play this season. Perceived dullness looks as if it wasn’t introduced intentionally – and let’s take the last match to describe it – in order to suffocate Sevilla’s advances towards David De Gea’s goal.

Mourinho’s boring football at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium came as a result of having no structure or plan. Mourinho’s tactics seem non-existent and utterly destructive. The inventiveness and inertness are disturbing – not for the viewers alone but for the players as well – and it can’t be too long before Paul Pogba starts to feel the pressure he is being constantly exposed by his manager in the first place.

A solution?

Many would argue that Jose Mourinho was brought to introduce swagger and bravado and the current crop of players he has at his disposal – at least Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez – are more than capable of delivering, but that’s not the biggest issue here.

Mourinho is in no competition with Guardiola and his eye-catching football but he should try to think of a way how to get the best out of his players who are underused at the moment. United’s attack is currently left with no clear instructions as to how to go forward – at least that’s what we learned from the Sevilla game – with strikers left to figure it out for themselves and try to solve game with individual efforts.

Spontaneity is not something a club like Manchester United  should be relying on upfield and that’s exactly where Paul Pogba can help Mourinho – as a binding matter, a gluing substance that would help Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez spread their wings going forward.


Milos Markovic

Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently and His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.



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