After a wretched start to the season, Paul Pogba was dropped to the substitute’s bench against Newcastle.
It was a sensible call from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to leave out the Frenchman, and the right one.
But it should be noted that Pogba came off the bench with the score at 1-1 and the game finished 4-1.
Pogba played well when he came on, managing 30 touches in 22 minutes as United took control.
He created one chance, made one tackle and one interception, also winning two aerial duels.
Being able to bring a player as talented as Pogba off the bench is a luxury for Solskjaer. But the question is ‘what comes next?’.
Pogba in or out?
United started with Fred and Scott McTominay in the win over Newcastle. The duo are a well balanced pairing who have proven their quality in big games.
PSG, Chelsea, RB Leipzig and Arsenal lie ahead over the next four matches.
As good as Fred and McTominay are, it is unlikely they get the start in all of these games.
They could both be out against PSG, despite starring in the win in Paris in 2019.
Nemanja Matic is rested up, with no matches in 14 days after his retirement from international football, while Pogba has not started a game in over a week.
If Solskjaer’s plan was to have fresh legs available to take on PSG, with just two full days in between matches, then he will have that with Pogba and Matic.
Up for grabs
A mixed start to the season has put the spots in United’s midfield up for grabs.
This was not the case at the end of last season when Pogba and Matic started nearly every game.
Perhaps their slow start was a product of this. Fred and McTominay have seemed fresher.
Throw in new signing Donny van de Beek too, who replaced him against Palace and scored, and United have a real array of options.
Pogba must earn his spot in the United side. While the PSG decision may be an easier one to bring him in, next Sunday against Chelsea will be less clear.
Solskjaer made a bold call to leave Pogba out, and it may spark a positive reaction.
With so many options available, it will not be a surprise if he is out of the side against Chelsea next weekend again.
If it becomes a pattern, it will become a big talking point in the media. But Pogba cannot have a spot on reputation alone. He has to earn it.
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