The Treble column: June 17. Manchester United opinion on three topics, every weekday.
Paul Pogba should have gone sooner
Paul Pogba’s ‘Pogmentary’ is out today. Rumour has it, the show can be located in Amazon’s ‘comedy’ section.
A sneak preview was released on Thursday which saw Pogba moaning about the contract offer he claimed to receive from Manchester United. He was fortunate to be offered one – and we can only thank the heavens he did not sign it.
He described a £300,000 per week offer as ‘nothing’, The Mail reported, before vowing his intention would be, to ‘show Manchester that they made a mistake in waiting to give me a contract. And show other clubs that Manchester made a mistake in not offering me a contract’.
Here’s what Paul Pogba doesn’t get. He could win back to back Serie A titles at Juventus, but it won’t change the fact he was unable to cut it on a regular basis in the Premier League. He had six years to produce at Manchester United, and he failed, so frankly, nobody cares what he does next.
Manchester United did make one mistake – that’s not getting rid of Paul Pogba sooner.
United chose Pogba ahead of Jose Mourinho in December 2018. That was a mistake. The Frenchman should have been sold the next summer, regardless. United at least could have got some cash for him, and drawn a line under the saga once and for all.
Instead it dragged on until now, where he has finally left the club, with a total of zero wins in seven Champions League knockout matches he played in. And one red card.
Manchester United’s biggest opponents
The Premier League fixtures for 2022/23 were released this week, and while there are a number of tough clashes to negotiate, the biggest challenge for Manchester United is one of a different kind.
Manchester United’s biggest opponents are themselves. This club needs to get out of it’s own way and start making smart decisions.
Hiring Ralf Rangnick to be a manager and not a consultant, and then allowing him to leave at a time when his recruitment expertise could have been needed, was the latest in a series of bungled decisions.
This transfer window was supposed to be a turning point. It still can be, but it feels like more of the same is in store, more misguided decisions and fruitlessly chasing big names. Fortunately there is still time to turn it all around.
If United can’t, and don’t sign any players, or sign the wrong players, then the next 38 matches really don’t matter, whatever order we play our opponents in. More mediocrity and poor results lie ahead.
This transfer window is crucial to fixing the deeply flawed squad, and this is Manchester United’s immediate priority. Get it right, and we might just have a chance.
Talent ID for Europe’s next top striker must begin now
Manchester United have missed out on the top strikers of this generation, Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe. There were chances to sign them, years ago, before they hit the heights of their current performance.
With United also missing out on the next level of forwards below them, Dusan Vlahovic and Darwin Nunez, it leaves the club’s striker transfer strategy unclear.
Cristiano Ronaldo can hold the fort for now, perhaps for a couple of years, but United need to plan ahead.
This is the time to begin identifying the next batch of top strikers, the next Haaland and Mbappe. And take a gamble on one or two of them now.
Giving them the chance to learn under Ronaldo would be a unique opportunity too, helping their development.
United have seen that waiting for the next striker to emerge doesn’t work. They are either too expensive, or United are in too weak a position to sign them.
So it is time for a different approach, to pick out the next great strikers, who could be 18 or 19, and work on developing them. With Ronaldo there, the pressure is lower than it could be otherwise. This is the summer for United to take a chance.