The Paul Pogba puzzle is Manchester United’s biggest failure and they are to blame for the inconsistency
IAN LADYMAN: Paul Pogba is an excellent footballer … One of Manchester United’s biggest modern failures is not being able to build a team around him.
- Paul Scholes recently criticized and accused Paul Pogba of causing ‘chaos’
- But there is no evidence of that and Pogba is still an excellent footballer.
- The French always seems to comply with his selection and not with Manchester United
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer doesn’t seem to know what Pogba’s best position is
Paul Scholes’ recent dissection of Manchester United performances was largely clever. Amid the excitement of United’s comeback against Atalanta in the Champions League, it was Scholes who predicted trouble against Liverpool.
However, his comments about Paul Pogba seem less certain. After Pogba’s expulsion from Liverpool’s game, Scholes suggested that his entry into Naby Keita had been “ridiculous” and accused the Frenchman of causing “chaos in recent years”.
I’m not sure how much of that is true. Pogba was over the ball on Keita and had to go. However, there was no malice. I was trying to win the ball. Failure. Happens.
Paul Pogba came under great scrutiny following his red card in a 5-0 loss to Liverpool
In terms of his time at United, the 28-year-old’s five seasons have been a huge disappointment. But chaos? There seems to be little evidence for that.
Pogba is a superb footballer who has not shone in his second spell at Old Trafford. He will always carry it with him, I’m sure. But every time I see him play for France, I start to wonder whose fault it is.
In recent Nations League games in Italy, Pogba was fabulous, leading France’s midfield with energy, intelligence and great passion. Pogba is a fantastic passer, both short and long. He can make ground quickly and use the ball with either foot. Score goals, good.
Paul Scholes accused the French midfielder of causing chaos ‘in recent years’
At United, that rarely seems to happen. Pogba seems unsure of his role and often tries to overcomplicate things. As such, it makes mistakes. Are you trying too hard to impress? Maybe.
All this reminds me from time to time of Juan Sebastián Verón’s time at United so many years ago. He was another midfielder who bombed at Old Trafford only to continually see himself as the class act that he undoubtedly was every time he played for Argentina.
Veron’s problem was Roy Keane. The United captain did all the things Veron was good at and wasn’t about to give up. There was no place on Sir Alex Ferguson’s team for both of them. Pogba’s problems have been less clear, but there is a similarity. Ferguson’s job was to make his £ 28 million purchase of Veron in 2001 work and he failed. Upon Pogba’s arrival in 2016, United’s intention was to build a team around him and they too have failed.
In fact, it is one of his biggest modern failures during a period in which there have been many. What is Pogba’s best position for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United? Someone knows? Have we ever known? It seems not and that points to a succession of coaching failures.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (pictured) doesn’t seem to know what Pogba’s best position is
With his contract terminated next summer, Pogba is expected to leave for nothing. Neither United nor Pogba’s representatives want to commit to that.
There is valuable public relations ground that can be won and lost. But there are no progressive talks on a new deal and it is now November.
And this is something that should worry United a bit. If Pogba were under contract, there would only be a small number of clubs in Europe that could pay a transfer fee and his salary. But a free transfer is different and that puts English clubs at stake.
With his contract terminated in the summer, Pogba is expected to walk away for free once again.
Imagine Pogba at Chelsea or Arsenal. It’s not very unreasonable to imagine him doing reasonably well in clubs like that.
The fact is, Pogba has had a successful international career (he has 89 international appearances and is a World Cup champion) and was successful at Juventus, where he won Serie A four times. The only place where one of the most talented footballers in Europe hasn’t seemed like a very good player is at Manchester United.
So whose fault do we really think is?