Paul Pogba has been an enigma for much of his four years at Manchester United.
The Frenchman’s struggles early this season have been partly down to fitness issues, and also tactical.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been playing Pogba too deep, and at various points he has been the midfielder furthest back in United’s team.
This doesn’t play to Pogba’s strengths. While he is good enough to influence the game from deep, he does the most damage when he gets into the final third.
That is why it was so refreshing to see Pogba’s attacking side allowed to flourish against PSG.
How it played out
Pogba came on for United in the 66th minute against PSG as a replacement for Alex Telles.
This prompted a change in system from United as the team moved to a four-man midfield.
What made this work for Pogba was that he was able to play a more attacking role.
He had the help of Fred and Scott McTominay behind him, freeing him up to influence the game in the final third.
Pogba provided the assist for Marcus Rashford’s winner, one of two chances he created.
Add in Bruno Fernandes, and this was a finely balanced quartet which gave United the platform to go on and win the game.
The challenge for Solskjaer
Even as a trio with Fred and McTominay, Pogba could work in this role in an attacking formation. Injuries denied United experimenting with this last season.
However, Fernandes and Donny van de Beek are both competing for this spot.
So Solskjaer has to decide whether to look more closely at using a four-man diamond midfield on a regular basis.
United have the quantity and quality of attackers to do so, and while this puts pressure on the full-backs to get up and down the flanks, Alex Telles in particular is a strong attacking asset.
The Mail reported back in June that United were considering deploying Pogba in an advanced role, even higher up the pitch than Fernandes.
This has not played out, but Tuesday night was a reminder that it should be an option.
For all the discussion about ‘unlocking Pogba’ since he signed, the win in Paris was a sign there is still more to come from him.
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