Returning star Paul Pogba faces a battle to convince Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he should start for Manchester United in the team’s return game against Tottenham this Friday.
The Athletic claim Pogba will start on the bench for the fixture, which might actually be a smart decision on United’s part
Here is a look at three reasons why United should not include Pogba in the starting line up…
A lot has been made of the high ceiling potential of a Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes midfield partnership. Together they could be outstanding.
But as last week’s friendly with West Brom showed, it may not click straight away.
Opponents Tottenham have a strong midfield and United need guarantees, not potential. Both Scott McTominay and Fred have shown themselves more than capable this season alongside Nemanja Matic. The pair even starred together in the win over Spurs at Old Trafford.
United’s variance of options mean there is simply no need to take the gamble on Pogba in such a big game, with so much at stake.
His own protection
Physically we do not know how fit Pogba is, or how his ankle might react in a competitive match. And unlike with Marcus Rashford on the left wing, United have top class alternatives, so we can show a little patience.
It will also pay to take a little pressure off Pogba too. If United lose, he will get the blame if he starts. He always does, and he will be accused of unbalancing the team, with the spotlight on his partnership with Fernandes.
United can simply take him out of the firing line, and ease him in with other matches upcoming, including the FA Cup quarter-final away at Norwich eight days later.
Make him earn it
It would do Pogba some good to push him to work even harder in order to secure his starting spot.
United’s options in midfield are so strong that nobody should walk into the side on reputation alone.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be rewarding his alternative options like Fred or McTominay for their efforts by naming one of them as a starter, and send a message to the whole squad, that places are up for grabs and not granted on reputation.
If this prompts an even more determined and committed Paul Pogba in the weeks ahead, then leaving him out of the starting XI could be to his benefit.
From the bench he could also come on and make an instant impact, and become a hero, against his former boss Jose Mourinho, who may be taken aback by him not starting.
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