Paul Pogba played just eight minutes from the bench at the weekend for Manchester United.
United did not miss him, with Fred and Scott McTominay justifying their selection in the heart of United’s midfield.
Pogba was not rested. He was not being saved or rotated for another game. He was quite simply dropped.
His omission is a big talking point. At least outside of United. Anybody watching Pogba play this season perfectly understands why Pogba has been axed.
Phil Neville was quoted by The Mail: “I still think it’s absolutely disgraceful that Pogba can’t get in that team. For United to win a league, for United to be successful, for United to play the style of football that Ole wants them to play then Pogba has to play.”
Being an international break, France boss Didier Deschamps added in his opinion too.
Deschamps told France Football: “He is in a situation with his club where he cannot be happy, neither with his playing time, nor with his positioning.”
Pogba must earn his way in
Neville and Deschamps miss the point with their comments. We know Pogba is talented, but that only gets you so far.
Pogba has had plenty of opportunities for United this season, starting in four Premier League games out of seven. Donny van de Beek wishes he would be given this type of run.
United have lost three of the games Pogba started, with defeats against Palace, Tottenham, and Arsenal.
The Arsenal defeat could be directly attributed to Pogba. He needlessly gave away a penalty and United lost 1-0.
He had also given away a penalty in the win over Brighton, which fortunately was then over ruled.
Pogba’s best moments have come when he has been brought off the bench. Against PSG he changed the game and provided the match winning assist for Marcus Rashford.
Finding a place for Pogba to fit is not easy
Pogba and Nemanja Matic were United’s favoured midfield duo at the end of last season.
Pogba lost this status with a terrible performance at home to Tottenham, in which the whole team faltered.
Since then it has been Fred and Scott McTominay in United’s midfield and the pair work well together.
Pogba cannot play too deep as he is both ineffective and risks getting caught on the ball, as he did against Southampton at the end of last season.
While he could play an attacking role, United have player who are better suited – Bruno Fernandes for one.
Pogba had most success in the diamond formation United effectively utilised against RB Leipzig. He got forward to provide the assist for Mason Greenwood to score the game’s opener.
It certainly does not help Pogba to be shunted around different systems, and not get a regular run in the side, but there are bigger issues now.
United need defensive solidity and Pogba does not provide this. Nor does he offer enough attacking thrust.
Pogba needs to find a way to stand out. He is capable of stepping up, but he actually has to. He cannot just rely on his reputation.
Deschamps and Neville are overlooking this. Pogba must earn his place in the United side, and their comments are disrespectful towards the players who are outperforming Pogba.
The France boss in particular should be urging Pogba to rise to the challenge, and not pointing fingers at United for mishandling him.
- Predicted Manchester United line-up v Liverpool
- Solskjaer praises development of full backs Shaw and Wan-Bissaka
- Solskjaer has reportedly rejected loan bids for van de Beek, Tuanzebe and Williams
- Cavani is finally bringing success to Manchester United’s number 7 shirt
- Loan for Facundo Pellistri can work if it fast-tracks his United success
- Fred’s late battling shows why he is so important to United
- Mark Lawrenson is expecting Manchester United to beat Liverpool
- Amad Diallo’s Manchester United debut is looking more and more likely
- Three Portugal based players Manchester United should be monitoring
- Manchester United said to be keen on Bayern youngster Jamal Musiala