We tried to take a step back from the reporting of the latest Paul Pogba and Graeme Souness to-and-fro. A lot of it is over-dramatising comments from the Frenchman in response to incessant baiting from the former Liverpool man.
Pogba didn’t do anything wrong with his comments. Souness couldn’t help but bite back. And what happened next could be beneficial to Manchester United.
Let’s recap. Pogba was asked on United’s official podcast to send a picture of him winning the World Cup to Souness – who recently told the Sunday Times, that the Frenchman would ‘be a doddle to play against’.
Pogba said: “I didn’t even know who he was, really. I heard he was a great player and stuff like that. I know the face, but [not] the name.”
Ouch. That zinger had Souness so rattled that he was on SkySports at 9am the next morning looking like he hadn’t slept, to challenge Pogba to ‘put his medals on the table’.
This challenge in itself isn’t a smart move from the Scot, considering Pogba is a World Cup winner, and won more trophies by the age of 27 than Souness did in his career.
Feel the love
It’s what came next that is important. As debate raged between rivals fans, and supporters from various generations, one thing was clear – Manchester United fans are sticking by Paul Pogba.
For a player who has been thrown under the bus over the past year by his own agent, had his own injury problems questioned, and has been linked with a transfer away on an a weekly basis, it’s pretty amazing to see such support in favour of him.
That’s what happens when it feels he is being constantly maligned by one pundit in particular, with Souness appearing to have an agenda against him. He has had numerous potshots at Pogba over the past year – in a campaign where he has barely played due to injury.
Add in the Liverpool connections too, and United supporters have come out fighting for the Frenchman.
If Pogba was questioning how United’s fanbase would take to him on his return to action, he need not worry. He’ll get the support he craves.
United fans want to see a player prepared to fight for the shirt, and one who is prepared to stick up for himself. He’s halfway there.
Pogba also told the United podcast: “Bucket list in my life time? FA Cup, and we’re still in the Europa League. Premier League next year? Next year it can be. Tomorrow is another day. Now we think about the present, and the present is those two cups. I want to get back and help the team.”
Now this isn’t an statement which says he wants to stay long term and sign a new contract, but it’s a step forward. For so long, Pogba has been too silent, and this has fuelled a perception he does not care. He clearly sees a good opportunity at United in the short term to show what he is capable of.
Pogba is ambitious, this is reason for his alleged desire to leave anyway. But perhaps now United are putting together a team he can thrive in, with Bruno Fernandes in, and potentially Jadon Sancho arriving in the summer too.
He should stay and give it a go. He may like the new look team which can provide him the opportunities to prove his biggest critics wrong.
This week has shown United fans still care about him. It wasn’t an indifferent response, it led to a passionate show of sparring on social media in defence of a genuinely great player.
If Pogba feels that love and support, it could help make a difference. United are his home right now, and this week fans have reminded him he is part of the family.
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