It feels like Groundhog Day at this point, but it has been claimed that Paul Pogba is set to return for Manchester United ‘next week’.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave the update at his press conference yesterday. We have learned by now not to take everything the manager says at face value.
Especially regarding Pogba, who has seen the goalposts move over his return from injury several times already.
Solskjaer told the club website: “Paul’s still working with the physios outside and he won’t be training with the first team until next week. So then let’s see how long that will take, but he’ll need some time to train to get his football fitness back.”
He is at least now back at Carrington rather than in Dubai, and we’ll see if he makes it into training next week without a setback.
Just returning is not enough
The timing of Pogba’s return is a little suspicious. Is he returning to play for United, or for France?
Going by his agent Mino Raiola’s comments, Pogba’s desire remains to quit United in the summer. And there has been a sentiment that he has little interest in the club.
Perhaps that’s unfair, and he really wants to play a part in the remainder of United’s season. He needs to show it. At the moment, we need to see it to believe it.
France’s international fixtures are held on March 27 and 31. He is no doubt focused on playing a key role at Euro 2020. There is no reason why he can’t fulfil ambitions for both club and country.
So it would feel like a kick in the teeth if Pogba spends the next three weeks just training, getting fit, not rushing his recovery to help the team, and then lining up for Les Bleus in their friendly matches at the end of the month. It’s very possible.
Perhaps it will take that long to get him up to full fitness, and we should give him the benefit of the doubt. But what if he plays for France, and then goes off injured again upon return to United.
We need a fully engaged Pogba
Pogba is one of the world’s best midfielders and should want to prove that all over again. If he does want to land a big move, he needs to play like it to tempt a team to offer United a hefty transfer fee.
United are fighting on three fronts, in the FA Cup, the Premier League, and Europa League.
Pogba’s return could give United one of the best midfields in the league, adding to Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Fred, and now Bruno Fernandes.
Even if its just one game, we need to see Pogba and Fernandes together. The Frenchman might just enjoy it.
This month’s fixture list sees United visit Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham on March 15.
That should be within Pogba’s reach, and he will have all the motivation he should need to get one over on his former boss.
We need a fully engaged Pogba though, not one who is just going through the motions. That would harm the team.
If his mind is on France, and not United, he should stay in the background.
If he truly wants to play a part in the remainder of this season, let him fight for his spot and take us to an even higher level.
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