I rarely listen to anything that a scouser has to say. It’s nothing personal, I find the accent to be quite whiny, and it grates. Despite this, I recently caught the clip of Jamie Carragher on Talksport about Pogba.
“The fact we are still talking four and a half years later it suggests he’s never been good enough in different tactical set-ups. Would I pick Pogba in the Manchester United team now? No I wouldn’t. I don’t think he’s a great player.”
I loathe to criticise any player in red. I much prefer to give every player and the manager, my full and unconditional support. Often it has been completely blind and red tinted. But I couldn’t help but find myself nodding in agreement with every word that Carragher said.
When one of your own players is under attack, we should always adopt a siege mentality. Sir Alex instilled it in us, and we seemed to have stopped using it as a default. In 1998, David Beckham was public enemy number one. It followed an infamous, yet minor indiscretion in an England shirt. How did United react? The whole of Old Trafford rallied around and supported him. Becks could easily have jumped ship to Spain far sooner than he did. But he stayed loyal and was pivotal in our march towards domestic and European glory. His season was only marred by the ridiculous decision not to award him the European Footballer of the Year trophy. In truth, his performances should have put him alongside the Holy Trinity of the 60s, and more recently, Ronaldo.
But back to Pogba. And Carragher. I just don’t see any reason to argue against what he had to say. The Frenchman came with a lofty reputation. He had been successful plying his trade for the Old Lady of Italian football. He had a catalogue of superb goals that befitted his standing in the game. Of course, there was also the trophies, four Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and not least, the World Cup. Pogba looked every bit a United player. PogBACK# even became a thing on social media.
But the triumphs in Juventus and French colours are fading fast. Carragher has said that Pogba has failed in every single position for United. He went further regarding different tactical set-ups that United have used, in order to get the best out of him. When Bruno Fernandes arrived, Pogba was injured. The Portuguese Magnifico wasted no time and established himself as a fan favourite. Fernandes was credited with United’s resurgence and strong finish to the season.
Pogba’s Wikipedia page, lists Pogba as being able to play in a variety of roles. It’s never the most reliable source. But all the midfield roles are mentioned. Holding role – check, deep lying playmaker – check, attacking midfielder – check, box-to-box – check. I’m not sure if it does him any favours. Both Mourinho and Solskjær tried to fit Pogba into a variety of different roles. It has always been to try and get the best out of him. To “unlock” his undoubted talent. The success rate isn’t as high as it should be for a player of his calibre. But it should be really high. High enough to put him alongside the Beckham’s, the Scholes’ and the Zidane’s of the game. Take a trip to YouTube and you will find evidence of what Pogba can do. Most of his goals are “highlight reel” and arguably belong in a catalogue simply defined as “nonchalant.” The tools are there, but are they being used effectively?
I’d be loathe to write off a player that cost so much money, even if we were able to claw some back. I daren’t mention the “R” word, even though talk of a swap deal that would see Pogba return to Juventus, ramps up. Is it possible that United are getting ready to cash in? Has the signing of Van De Beek paved the way for his depature? Pogba, even now, is reported to be fluttering his eyelashes in the direction of Madrid again. It could be paper talk again. Or it could be that agent of his, who is more likely driving things, and touting him, to see what interest there is?
All I know is that I haven’t seen a Pogba “dab” in ages. I just wish I knew the answer to the Pogba conundrum…