When Manchester United announced the signing of Paul Pogba in August 2016 for a then-record fee of £89.3 million, I like most Manchester United fans, expected the French star to provide world-class creativity to the Red Devils’ lacklustre midfield.
However, Pogba’s time at the Theatre of Dreams – a place he called home for three years previously – has been remembered for only momentary flashes of brilliance.
I strongly disagree he has been a total flop or is an overrated player – that award goes to Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw – but the one department he should be doing better at is consistency.
Pogba performs at his best only when he feels like it.
He disappears for most games, has a brilliant dribble for 20 seconds, sends a wicked through ball every odd game and does nothing much for the team until the final whistle.
Although his statistics over the past couple of seasons have been better, with more goals and assists than Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, the Frenchman has been another overhyped acquisition.
There are other factors to consider when discussing the curious case of Pogba – tactics, teammates, or a lack of ambition from the player himself?
Let us take a look.
When it comes to tactics, a lot of Pogba fans believe he has been deployed out of position.
Being one who considers himself an elite world-class midfielder, he should have no problem fitting into any formation or tactic.
Take a look at Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo – still topping the scoring charts at a new club, under new management, in a new country.
When Pogba was given the chance to spearhead United’s midfield – before the arrival of Bruno Fernandes – he failed.
Lack of good teammates? I wouldn’t say the 2018 World Cup winner is surrounded by horrible midfielders.
They are decent players who cost the club a small fee compared to the Frenchman’s astronomical price tag.
Pogba was brought in to replicate what Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs did. But he hasn’t pulled off inspiring performances.
His chemistry with teammates is pathetic. The stats might prove me wrong, but I do not base a player’s greatness by the numbers.
Recently, I told Twentytwo13 executive editor Graig Nunis that Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson has been the most complete midfielder in the Premier League over the past five seasons.
He doesn’t look good from a statistical point of view, but Hendo has all the qualities you need of a midfielder.
He is a player with heart, dedication to the badge, a great footballing mind, and an inspiration to the Liverpool dressing room.
That’s all I expected of Pogba too at Manchester United, but he failed.
What I’ve witnessed from Pogba at the club I’ve supported since I was a little kid, brings me to the last point of my rant.
It is why I believe the 27-year-old should start looking for options elsewhere – a lack of ambition.
He isn’t enjoying his football, never fights when competing for a ball and looks like a Championship-level player for 80 minutes of a match.
The remaining 10 minutes are reserved for his flashes of brilliance.
He came with a fierce reputation as a box-to-box midfielder, superb footballing IQ, and probably an influential role model to his teammates.
But it seems clear now that the wizardry of Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, and Arturo Vidal at Juventus made life easier for him … which in turn led the red half of Manchester to capture him for an overpriced sum.
He didn’t need to defend, perform consistently, inspire teammates and do a lot of other things when surrounded by greatness in Italy.
Minus those exceptional former teammates, Pogba is nothing but an average midfielder. Adding salt to the wound, Fernandes has stolen his limelight.
As his agent said earlier this week, it’s time Pogba finds a new club.
He is not the only person to be blamed for the club’s downfall, but perhaps Manchester United could use the significant money his sale would bring by making the right investments during the next summer transfer window.
We would probably need another manager too, but for now, we should start by getting rid of Pogba.
FIXTURES (Malaysian time)
Leeds vs West Ham (4am)
Wolves vs Aston Villa (8.30pm)
Newcastle vs West Brom (11pm)
Manchester United vs Manchester City (1.30am)
Everton vs Chelsea (4am)
Southampton vs Sheffield United (8pm)
Crystal Palace vs Tottenham (10.15pm)
Fulham vs Liverpool (12.30am)
Arsenal vs Burnley (3.15 am)
Leicester vs Brighton (3.15am)
Wolves vs Chelsea (2am)
Manchester City vs West Brom (4am)
Arsenal vs Southampton (2am)
Leicester vs Everton (2am)
Leeds vs Newcastle (2am)
Fulham vs Brighton (4am)
Liverpool vs Tottenham (4am)
West Ham vs Crystal Palace (4am)
Aston Villa vs Burnley (2am)
Sheffield United vs Manchester United (4am)