The start to last season was a disaster for Manchester United, and in particular Paul Pogba.
Pogba’s opening three games included being substituted after an hour against Palace, giving away a penalty against Brighton, and a performance against Tottenham which may rank as his worst ever for the club.
There was a legitimate reason for Pogba’s poor start, he had tested positive for Covid at the start of September and mistakenly rushed back. Quite clearly he was unfit.
So it was a pleasant surprise to see Pogba both start this season for United after just 45 minutes of friendly action, and then deliver one of his best ever performances – providing a joint Premier League record four assists in one game.
The key to Pogba’s performance was not just the attacking role he was played in, it was his fitness.
The Athletic report Manchester United’s coaching staff were pleasantly surprised with Pogba’s conditioning upon his return.
The report states Pogba returned in the best pre-season shape of his stint at United to date, and credits his fitness work with NBA team the Miami Heat during the summer while he was away.
Pogba’s mindset is revealing
Two summers ago it seemed like United had to drag Pogba back to pre-season, with questions being asked whether he would make it on tour to Australia and China right up until the morning of the flight.
This time Pogba has returned like a man on a mission, which shows his enthusiasm for United’s current project.
Whether that translates into signing a contract extension is unclear, but the Frenchman’s approach to his fitness and top conditioning is representative of his current happiness at the club. It is certainly more of an argument for him extending than against it.
Pogba was in fine form for France at Euro 2020 and clearly wants to continue playing at the same high level.
Whatever the future may hold, in the here and now, Pogba’s new-found motivation is good news for Manchester United.
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