Brought back to the club as the prodigal son, Paul Pogba instead often finds himself cast as the whipping boy for United’s under achievement. Since returning to United three seasons ago, it’s fair to say no footballer has divided opinion in quite the same way as Pogba. Everyone at United, staff, fans, team mates and not forgetting the media set such high expectations on him. So just how important is he to United?
Many (are you listening Graeme Souness!) argue that he’s a luxury player, not sure what role he is best suited for, that he lacks the footballing discipline to track back, doesn’t play it simple…the list goes on…and on…and on.
Undoubtedly some of this criticism is warranted, but due to his profile, he takes more than his fair share.
Statistically speaking he makes a huge contribution. Last season he was United’s top goal scorer in the league (13) and he recorded the most assists (9). The season was disappointing for so many reasons but imagine taking Pogba’s goals and assist out of the team. It’s scary to think where United would have finished in the league had he not been there.
He has the talent and winners’ medals, to be considered world class. A player that all clubs would wish to have in their team.
Looking beyond the stats, he is one of the few players in the United team that can make things happen. He is more than capable of beating a player one-on-one, playing a decisive pass, powering forward with the ball or scoring. So much of United’s play, and success in games, is dependent on Pogba putting in a good performance. And perhaps that’s the real problem. He is a world class player, surrounded by so much mediocrity. It’s not a coincidence that he managed to shine at Juventus, and win a World Cup with France, just look at the quality of the players he had around him. In a strong team the responsibility of a good team performance does not rest on the shoulders of one player.
Pogba is vital to United, but to get more out of him he needs the quality of player around him that can allow him to play to his playmaking strengths and cover him for his weaknesses. Solskjaer has said Pogba is the type of player he wants to build a team round, but whether he will be at United long enough for this to happen is debatable. Let’s hope the Glazers back the manager and allow him to build a team in which Pogba, and hopefully a few more world class players, can shine over the coming seasons.