The Paul Pogba situation is veering on farcical amid news he will undergo an operation on his ankle [BBC].
This leaves the midfielder with a total of five starts in the Premier League this season, which may not be added to.
It’s real bad luck for the Frenchman. It was also totally 100 per cent avoidable from United’s perspective.
He’s been handled terribly, both with the decision to keep him, and not add players around him. Ed Woodward is at fault.
- No director of football
- Six years of regression
- No added help around Pogba
- Big ego refusing to admit Pogba experiment has failed
Pogba made clear last summer he wanted to leave, with agent Mino Raiola confirming this stance via The Guardian last July.
United were stubborn, and decided to keep Pogba. The injury could not have been foreseen, but there were always going to be clear problems forcing a wantaway player to stick around.
The smart move would have been…
The smart move for United would have been to cash in on Pogba and sell to the highest bidder.
The one offer which did come in from Real Madrid was derisory and was rightly rejected.
Had United got ahead of this situation in May, and put Pogba up for sale, Europe’s top clubs could have budgeted for a proper offer and a bidding war between Real, PSG and Juventus could have commenced.
United could have reinvested the cash in replacements and improved the team.
United In Focus spoke to former Red Devils academy graduate John O’Kane last summer about Pogba. He said: “As soon as a player says that [he wants to leave], it’s goodbye.”
He urged the money to be put towards James Maddison, Wilfried Ndidi and Bruno Fernandes. Even if United had signed just one of these, we would be better off right now.
The situation speaks to a lack of vision at the club. A director of football would have seen this as an opportunity to sell, and reinvest.
Ed Woodward’s refusal to appoint one to oversee transfer business is a major factor behind this farce.
Worst of both worlds
United have ended up with the worst possible scenario. We have kept Pogba and he has barely played.
United’s lack of transfer activity may have contributed towards this too.
No midfielders were signed, with United’s strategy being to lean on Pogba to carry the team.
Pogba broke down with injury early, playing through a knock when having more midfield options available would have allowed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer greater freedom to rest the Frenchman.
Untangling the Pogba knot
One of the big problems for United now is that millions could get wiped off Pogba’s transfer value by his injury.
United won’t get the same value for Pogba this summer, had the club urged a bidding war for his services last June.
Clubs around Europe will see the Frenchman as a gamble, considering the transfer fee and wages involved, not to mention the commission Mino Raiola would charge.
United could try to sell an injured Pogba this January, again that would be for a major loss.
His transfer value in the summer will depend on whether he recovers for United, and if he plays for France at Euro 2020. It was a stubborn decision to keep Pogba, and it has backfired.
Strong leadership would have sold him, and reinvested the money immediately.
Instead we had Ed Woodward’s ego refusing to sell his marquee signing, and it has set United back by a year.
It could end up setting Unied back a further year if United don’t like the bids which come in this summer due to Pogba’s depreciated transfer value.
United could say to Pogba, ‘play for us in 2020/21 and earn your move away’.
This is a potential recipe for disaster, as further injury could wipe more millions off his value, and he would be edging closer to his contract expiry in 2022.
United have botched this, and the best solution is probably to take whatever money we can get for him in the summer, draw a line under it.
The most important part of all, is to sign more midfielders and improve the team.
Then whatever happens with Pogba becomes more of a business decision than a football one.
The team must progress without this farcical situation holding United back any longer.
Ed Woodward should be on the hook for this. One of the main reasons Pogba wants out is United not being able to compete at the top level.
That’s on Woodward, who has overseen six years of failure. And by the looks of it, more to follow.
In any normal job, such mishandling of a £89 million asset would be a sackable offence.
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