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‘Reality is that Pogba is struggling’


Manchester United's French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) vies with Southampton's Portuguese defender Jose Fonte (R) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 19, 2016. Oli SCARFF / AFP

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) vies with Southampton’s Portuguese defender Jose Fonte (R) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 19, 2016.<br />Oli SCARFF / AFP

Jose Mourinho made a startling admission following Manchester United’s draw at Liverpool on Monday night. He said that the forward line lacked ‘penetration’ and he had wanted to move Marcus Rashford to No 10 before he went down with cramp.

Those are worrying comments indeed for Paul Pogba. Hours after adidas released a promotional video portraying the £89million man as a cross between Lionel Messi and Kanye West, he had again failed to deliver on the pitch.

Anfield under floodlights was meant to be his big moment, particularly against a Liverpool team without Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana.

Instead, he disappointed. Mourinho has tried the Frenchman in different positions and even dropped Wayne Rooney to try to accommodate his talents. But so far nothing has worked and Mourinho will be asking himself a big question this week: Does he dare drop the world’s most expensive player for the equally demanding trip to Chelsea on Sunday?

As there have been all season, there were flashes of ‘Good Pogba’ on Monday night. His first-time cross for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the second half was top quality and should have been buried by the Swede.

But overall the 23-year-old’s performances have not lived up to the unprecedented ‘Pogback’ hype that accompanied his summer move from Juventus, four years after he had left Old Trafford for Serie A.

Most worryingly for United and their executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, when the action speeds up, Pogba’s awareness and anticipation seem sub-standard.

When he arrives in position, play has moved on.
Over the opening two months of the season, Pogba has had less impact than other midfield summer signings Wijnaldum, Joe Allen and Idrissa Gueye whose combined transfer value is half what United paid.

Mourinho started conservatively with him, playing him as one of two midfield holders in a 4-2-3-1. Apart from one outstanding half against Leicester City where he utilised the space vacated by the dropped Rooney, he hasn’t affected games. His header against the Foxes remains his only goal and he hasn’t made an assist.

Moving him further up the field at No 10 only served to show up his tactical weaknesses. It is hard to see how he can stick in that position for Chelsea ahead of Juan Mata, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Rashford or Rooney, following tomorrow’s Europa League tie against Fenerbahce.

The easy option would be to revert Pogba back to being a deep-lying midfielder in place of Marouane Fellaini at Stamford Bridge, but if Pogba only cost £10m, would he really deserve to be picked ahead of the Belgian who was good at Anfield.

Perhaps it is time for Mourinho to utilise the 4-3-3 system which served Pogba best at Juventus when he powered in from the left-hand side. Chelsea, with Antonio Conte’s men playing a 3-4-3, might be a place to start.

Mourinho signed Pogba to perform the role that Michael Essien had in the manager’s first successful spell at Chelsea. Use his power, strength and athleticism; and Pogba has better feet and aerial threat than the Ghanaian.

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  • Tosin


  • AZZO

    This is utter rubbish write up. I read the article with a ting of stereotyping. I say “ting” as I am not clear the author’s ethnic gender. Otherwise we did not hear such bashing criticism when Ronaldo, Bale, Suareze initially moved to their clubs at very high prices. They each did not immediately impact on their respective team performances and today their teams have the highest respect for them all. We did not hear such hue and cry of non performance in their early days at the clubs. Why is Pogba’s different and even so, the loudest? Can it be divorced from the simple fact that it is because he is black? Otherwise it is simply nature in the school of common sense to know that when ever you change offices, you don’t immediately begin to make an impact from day one no matter your skills and experience. This write up is provokingly inciting and vexatious.


    Azzo, your comments are hogwash as well if the write-up is rubbish. Pogba has not measured up, period. to me Pogba has been over-rated and he’s trying too hard to live up. For him to perform he needs not put himself under unnecessary pressure to impress. He just needs to be himself and enjoy the game. There is still time for him to do well in MU.