It is no secret that Paul Pogba wants to leave Manchester United and his injury problems have given the club an early taste of life without him in the side.
The consensus is that irrespective of his off-field issues and inconsistency, he remains by far United’s most creative force and must be ushered back into the team as early as possible.
His absence is forcing United to get used to life without him, which may be for the best long term if he eventually gets his move away.
Work around a lack of midfield creativity
United’s most recent Premier League opponents Liverpool are champions of Europe but are still being criticised for a lack of midfield invention.
Jurgen Klopp is showing it is possible to get results with an energetic, disciplined engine room.
He has relocated his creative impetus to the full backs, who have freedom to bomb forward before of the midfield discipline in place.
That also grants the front three licence to bomb into direct goalscoring positions.
Could Scott McTominay, Fred and Jesse Lingard not provide a similar support network, reducing the need for Pogba’s languid style in the centre by granting the full backs and frontline more freedom?
Double down on Solskjaer’s demands
Solskjaer has looked to rid United of high earners and big egos, demanding that the bare minimum his squad offers is 100 per cent commitment – but Pogba looks to be his blind spot.
Perhaps because he knows Pogba from his academy days, or perhaps because creative alternatives are so thin on the ground, Solskjaer is happy to indulge his inconsistencies.
Sir Alex Ferguson, on whom Solskjaer clearly models himself, indulged the likes of Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo, but they were fierce competitors with high standards.
Pogba is a leader among the group but the example he sets is that infrequent displays of class are acceptable at a time when the club is trying to re-establish its standing.
Doubling down on Solskjaer’s demands may send a message to Pogba. Of course, a high-quality signing to replace him would be essential eventually, but United must start getting used to life without Pogba now.
United won in Paris without Pogba, and victories over Leicester and Partizan have shown we can scrap to win in his absence.
He still needs replacing, but learning how to play without him is essential.
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