While Manchester United’s starting line up against Crystal Palace contained a few surprises, seeing Paul Pogba’s name on the teamsheet provided some reassurance.
However the Frenchman was one of United’s most disappointing performers in the defeat and it came as no surprise he was substituted after 62 minutes.
Firstly, we should note that Pogba did show a bit of positive attacking intent.
The Frenchman registered two shots on target. He was the only Manchester United player to do so.
It was just a shame that the rest of his game did not match up.
Below his usual standards
Pogba’s average pass completion rate last season was 85 per cent. On Saturday against Palace it was down to 75 per cent.
This was more on par with Bruno Fernandes, but the difference was the Portuguese star created five chances while Pogba did not make a single key pass.
There as a passage of play shortly before Pogba was taken off where he gave the ball away cheaply in midfield in succession, and his substitution felt like he was being put out his misery.
There are extenuating circumstances of course. Pogba missed time training after testing positive for coronavirus, and was one of the players who did not feature in the pre-season friendly a week earlier.
Pogba looked short of fitness, and the quality of his performance was lacking as a result.
United now have an alternative
Paul Pogba’s place in the United team may not be guaranteed for next weekend.
Substitute Donny van de Beek took his place and showed quality, scoring United’s goal.
Van de Beek can play in two positions, and is able to replace either Fernandes or Pogba.
Based on this performance, it is Pogba who will come under the most pressure from the Dutchman.
Certainly while he gets back up to full fitness and sharpness, Pogba is a candidate to sit out next weekend with Van de Beek coming in for United’s lunchtime fixture away at Brighton in the Premier League.
Especially if Van de Beek gets a midweek chance against Luton and takes it, calls will grow louder for the Dutchman to start the next league game, at Pogba’s expense.
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