Paul Pogba at Manchester United: Was he mismanaged or a mistake?

It is the summer season of 2016. Jose Mourinho is the Manchester United supervisor and the membership has simply damaged the world switch document. A Frenchman has returned to Old Trafford for unfinished enterprise.

“This is the right club for me to achieve everything I hope to in the game,” Paul Pogba mentioned after finishing his £89m transfer again to United from Juventus.

“He has the chance to be at the heart of this club for the next decade and beyond,” Mourinho added.

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It was a deal that triggered a social media frenzy. Emerging from the shadows with a crimson satan marked into his hair, Pogba’s announcement video was adopted by a sponsored music clip that includes Stormzy. The hype over #POGBACK had begun.

    It was alleged to be the beginning of one thing particular. A brand new period for a membership nonetheless struggling to search out its ft after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three years earlier.

    But Pogba has been unable to encourage United to former glories. The 2017 League Cup and Europa League are the one trophies of his six-season spell.

    Image:
    Pogba celebrates Manchester United's 2017 Europa League victory in Stockholm

    After being booed off the pitch in opposition to Norwich and struggling a calf damage at Liverpool final month, Pogba seems sure to depart the membership for a second time. He can’t solely be blamed for United’s lack of success, however his imminent departure alerts an underwhelming finish to a switch that promised a lot.

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    As his contract nears its expiry date and Europe’s greatest golf equipment put together to pounce, Sky Sports seems at Pogba’s second United profession.

    How did it go so unsuitable? Was he mismanaged? Or was it Pogba who made the error?

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    Take a look at Pogba’s finest bits from his time within the Premier League

    What is Pogba’s finest place?

    It is a query that even now, nearly six years on from his second United debut, these within the Old Trafford dugout each previous and current nonetheless wrestle to reply.

    But how did it start?

    In his first recreation again in opposition to Southampton in August 2016, Mourinho performed Pogba in a deep midfield function alongside Marouane Fellaini. The Frenchman had 107 touches within the recreation, 34 greater than anybody else on the pitch. He additionally regained possession extra occasions than some other participant, whereas nonetheless discovering the power to burst ahead. He completed the match having had 4 pictures at purpose – two greater than any team-mate.

    Image:
    Pogba performed alongside Marouane Fellaini in a deeper midfield place on his second Man Utd debut in August 2016

    Pogba scored 9 objectives and registered six assists in 51 appearances as he helped United win the League Cup and Europa League in 2016/17. In these finals, he began in a double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 formation, however at occasions all through the marketing campaign appeared on the left-hand facet of a midfield three. Pogba’s 57 probabilities created, 1,852 passes accomplished and a couple of,839 touches had been his highest totals throughout his six seasons at the membership.

    Despite a sixth-placed end within the Premier League, it was a profitable 12 months for Pogba – with the promise of extra to return. But it got here to mark the excessive level of his second spell at Old Trafford.

    Image:
    Pogba has additionally performed on the left-hand facet of a midfield three on a number of events throughout his Man Utd profession

    Pogba remained in a central function for almost all of the 2017/18 marketing campaign as United completed runners-up to Manchester City and misplaced the FA Cup remaining to Chelsea, however he featured sporadically in direction of the tip of Mourinho’s tenure because the pair’s relationship deteriorated.

    Reintegrated into the squad by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and taking part in barely extra superior, Pogba went on to finish the 2018/19 season with 16 objectives and 11 assists in all competitions, comfortably his finest return by way of purpose involvements. Having scored three Premier League objectives that marketing campaign earlier than Mourinho’s sacking, he scored 10 beneath Solskjaer and ended as United’s prime scorer.

    It is definitely a private spotlight of Pogba’s return, but in addition serves to indicate that he struggled to constantly produce these ranges and fulfil his true potential.

    Image:
    Pogba scored 16 objectives in all competitions in the course of the 2018/19 season and was usually utilized in a extra superior midfield function

    After an injury-hit and Covid-interrupted 2019/20 season, he made 42 appearances in all competitions throughout 2020/21 as United completed second within the Premier League and misplaced to Villarreal within the Europa League remaining. It was throughout this marketing campaign that he was usually utilised in a wider place on the left flank – a function he would proceed in at the beginning of 2021/22.

    He arrange 4 objectives as United thumped Leeds 5-1 on the opening day in August, one other within the 1-1 draw at Southampton and two extra in opposition to Newcastle in September. He stays joint-sixth within the Premier League help chart with 9, however seven of these had been within the opening 4 video games.

    Image:
    Pogba has additionally been used out on the left and registered 4 assists from this place in opposition to Leeds on the opening day of the 2021/22 marketing campaign

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    Against Leeds in August, Pogba turned the seventh participant in Premier League historical past to help 4 objectives in a single recreation within the competitors

    ‘I want the left of a midfield three’

    In September 2016, Pogba made no secret of the place he needed to play in an interview with Sky Sports’ Thierry Henry forward of the Manchester derby. “If you play a three [in midfield] I can play on the right or left, but I feel more comfortable to play on my left.”

    With each Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick preferring a 4-2-3-1 formation in recent times, although, it has not been attainable for Pogba to function in his favoured function. At the bottom of the midfield in that system, Scott McTominay and Fred – or at occasions Nemanja Matic – have been trusted greater than him to stay disciplined and commonly protect a four-man defence. The No 10 place Pogba as soon as thrived in at occasions beneath Solskjaer has additionally been stuffed by Bruno Fernandes since his arrival in January 2020.

    Almost six years after his feedback to Henry, Pogba instructed French newspaper Le Figaro: “At Manchester United do I really have a role? I ask the question but I don’t have an answer.”

    Image:
    Pogba scored 18 objectives and registered 28 assists in 108 appearances beneath Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

    Success beneath Deschamps and Conte

    Finding Pogba’s finest place has not been not possible for others who’ve coached him. While a 4-2-3-1 doesn’t all the time seem to go well with him, it’s a system he prospered in beneath Didier Deschamps on the worldwide stage for France. In the 2018 World Cup remaining, he began in a double pivot with N’Golo Kante, however maybe the Chelsea man’s unbelievable work price and Blaise Matuidi’s capability to naturally transfer in from the left masked his defensive frailties.

    Potentially, taking part in in his most well-liked place on the left of a midfield three in a 3-5-2 formation will get one of the best out of Pogba, as he usually did beneath Antonio Conte at Juventus. With Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal alongside him, the added reassurance of three central defenders, two overlapping full-backs and a second striker who usually dropped again to obtain the ball gave Pogba extra freedom to specific himself.

    • How Conte bought one of the best out of Pogba
    • Pogba to Man City a ‘no brainer’ | Carra: I would not go anyplace close to him

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    Speaking in May 2022, Micah Richards, Jamie Carragher and Jamie Redknapp locked horns as they debated whether or not Pogba can be a good signing for Manchester City

    At United, although, the talk over his finest place has by no means ended. He created extra probabilities and made extra passes when taking part in in a double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 formation, however play him in a extra attacking function like Solskjaer did at the start of his reign and Pogba scores extra objectives. Play him huge on the left and he turns into an help machine, however his most well-liked function, in his personal phrases, is on the left of a midfield three.

    “I’m not doubting his quality, but he doesn’t work hard enough. If anyone says he gives 100 per cent in every game, that’s a lie,” Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher mentioned.

    “Paul Pogba, whether in a French shirt or for Manchester United, shows unbelievable quality and does special things at different times, but we’re around six years in and still talking about his best position and who can get the best out of him.”

    Have accidents hampered Pogba's progress?

    2016/17 season: Missed three video games with a hamstring damage.

    2017/18 season: Missed 12 video games as a result of a thigh muscle rupture.

    2018/19 season: Missed two video games as a result of a muscle damage.

    2019/20 season: Missed a whole of 40 video games as a result of a recurring ankle damage.

    2020/21 season: Missed 13 video games as a result of an ankle damage after which a hamstring problem.

    2021/22 season: Missed 19 video games as a result of a hamstring downside after which a calf damage.

      Mourinho relationship crumbles

      Pogba’s time at United has been shrouded in controversy and it could be remiss to not point out the deterioration of his relationship with Mourinho.

      After two trophies in his first season beneath the Portuguese, what was alleged to be a strong basis to rebuild the membership’s success quickly crumbled away. In 2017/18, United completed a distant second behind Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking Manchester City within the Premier League and misplaced to Conte’s Chelsea within the FA Cup remaining. Seven months later and Mourinho was gone.

      Image:
      Jose Mourinho introduced Pogba again to Manchester United in the summertime of 2016 however their relationship finally deteriorated

      The main cracks first began to look at the start of 2018. After being introduced off simply after an hour in away defeats at Tottenham and Newcastle, Pogba began on the bench for each legs of the Champions League last-16 defeat by Sevilla.

      His two-goal heroics and man-of-the-match efficiency at Manchester City that April as United overturned a 2-0 deficit to win and deny their rivals from claiming the title was a spotlight on the pitch, however hypothesis over Pogba’s future continued to extend off it.

      By the time Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 following a 3-1 loss at Liverpool, Pogba – an unused substitute at Anfield – had been stripped of United’s vice-captaincy and was filmed having a disagreement together with his supervisor at coaching by the Sky Sports cameras.

      “Once I had a great relationship with Mourinho, everybody saw that, and the next day you don’t know what happened,” Pogba instructed Sky Sports in April final 12 months. “That’s the strange thing I had with Mourinho and I cannot explain to you because even I don’t know.”

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      Speaking in August 2021, Gary Neville, Micah Richards and Graeme Souness have a heated argument over the way forward for Pogba

      Failure to win over supporters

      Pogba’s revelation in March that he has skilled despair “several times” throughout his profession was an essential reminder that skilled footballers are usually not immune from stress and criticism turning into an excessive amount of.

      He was harm by the response of United supporters who booed him when he was substituted throughout final month’s 3-2 win over Norwich at Old Trafford. As he walked down the tunnel at the tip of the match, he was jeered once more, earlier than cupping his hand behind his ear in retaliation.

      Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t the primary time.

      • Rangnick on Pogba boos: Not proper to focus on people

      When United concluded their 2018/19 Premier League marketing campaign with a 2-0 residence defeat to relegated Cardiff City, Pogba was seen receiving verbal abuse from some indignant United followers within the Stretford End.

      United’s season had resulted in horrible kind, amassing simply two factors from their remaining 5 video games. Pogba, after all, wasn’t solely responsible, however he usually bore the brunt of the followers’ frustrations. Several public feedback about his future through the years from former agent Mino Raiola, who handed away in April, could not have helped his relationship with supporters.

      Image:
      Pogba reacts to boos from Manchester United supporters after the 3-2 win over Norwich at Old Trafford on April 16

      Where subsequent for Pogba?

      Speaking in 2021, former United captain Roy Keane didn’t maintain again in his evaluation of Pogba’s second stint at the membership.

      He instructed Sky Sports: “As we’ve all discussed many times over the last few years, Paul Pogba’s a talented player, there’s no getting away from that. But I still feel he hasn’t done enough at Man United. As he mentioned he fell out with Mourinho, which was a big problem at the club.

      “I feel when Man United signed Pogba, it wasn’t to be taking part in within the Europa League or to be profitable the League Cup. They paid huge switch payment, huge wages for the likes of him, for United to be competing for league titles and the Champions League.”

      • Juventus assembly Pogba’s representatives
      • Pogba more likely to transfer overseas; Real, Juve, PSG

      Image:
      Pogba's time at Manchester United seems to be coming to an finish

      But as his contract runs down and his time at Old Trafford involves an finish, the talk now turns to the place Pogba goes subsequent. Despite reported curiosity from Manchester City, he is more likely to transfer overseas. Former employers Juventus are holding talks over his attainable return to Italy, whereas Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are amongst a host of Europe’s greatest golf equipment additionally fascinated with signing him.

      With 39 objectives and 51 assists in 226 appearances since returning to Manchester, Pogba has gained simply two main honours. He has not had the specified influence many had been hoping for, however don’t be shocked if he thrives elsewhere. In reality, it could be a shock if he did not.

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