Paul Pogba was a second half substitute as Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League.
This was likely Pogba’s last Champions League game in a Manchester United shirt. And it was one he will want to forget.
Along with fellow substitutes Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford, Pogba failed to have an impact. He had just nine touches in 24 minutes plus stoppage time.
Ralf Rangnick had shown faith in Pogba in the first leg. It wasn’t warranted, with the Frenchman lacking tenacity and creativity.
For a player who cost a staggering £89 million in 2016, the return has been poor.
Pogba in Europe
Pogba’s spell with United began pretty well. He ended the 2016/17 as a Europa League winner. But since that win over Ajax in Stockholm, it has all been downhill.
When has counted, really mattered, Pogba has been found wanting.
This match was a repeat of the 2018 defeat to Sevilla under Jose Mourinho. Pogba was controversially benched for the second leg, coming on for the final 30 minutes. Like last night, he was unable to swing the tie.
The next year United had their best Champions League knockout win, over PSG. Sadly it came without Pogba.
Pogba was sent off in a 2-0 first leg defeat and suspended for the away leg in Paris. It worked to United’s favour, as the team turned it around without him.
He then returned for the quarter-final against Barcelona as a starter. United lost the home leg 1-0 and second leg 3-0, with Pogba part of the side which was outclassed against a beatable Barcelona.
In the seasons which followed, there was Europa League heartbreak for United. Pogba could not even turn it on in Europe’s secondary competition. Last season’s final against Villarreal was a low point, when he was unable to impact the game.
And then we had this tie. Pogba played in both legs, and was not the game changer United needed him to be.
In four Champions League knockout ties for United Pogba’s record reads as… 0 goals, 0 assists, 1 red card, and there was just one win out of eight individual matches, which came when he was suspended.
With 0 wins from seven Champions League knockout games played, including five defeats, it’s a terrible record.
This was not what United hoped for when he was signed. During this time Pogba became a World Cup winner. He’s capable of more, and there is not even one memorable moment to cling onto.
But at United, it just isn’t working. It’s time to move on.