A month ago Thoughtful Football dissected the Paul Pogba Price tag. We came to the conclusion he was worth every penny. This of course went beyond his football acumen and into the murky world of brand equity.
Then a week ago the MNF football team put together an interesting piece on his performance at the Manchester Derby. His approach seemed ill disciplined and ineffective. Had we spoken to soon?
The 90million pound man had another questionable game against Watford last weekend, and United have started to stutter. All of a sudden there are questions being asked about the price tag. Thank God Wayne Rooney is playing even worse, otherwise the young Frenchman could’ve really been in for it.
I’d like to take you back to Pogba’s United debut on Friday Night Football. The punditry team lauded over his performance, describing it as like watching the biggest kid in the playground. We were all pretty excited.
But something else happened in that match, and I think it says a lot about what has happened to Pogba since his debut. I’m talking about his first touch of the game.
The ball kind of rolled under his foot. For an elite footballer this tends to happen for two reasons. Either they’re concentration has gone due to fatigue, or they’re nervous. Jesse Lingard’s highlight reel in the Manchester derby would be testament to the latter.
For all his flamboyance, flair and golden hair, Paul Pogba is just a young man in a very ridiculous situation. His performances feel like a boy trying to hard to prove himself amongst men.
What makes it worse is that he is playing in a man’s (adult’s) posistion. There aren’t too many out and out centre midfielders in their early twenties. Even Xavi and Iniesta were used sparingly and surrounded by experience in the earlier stages of their career.
At Juventus Pogba played a left of centre role. He was supported by a midfield maestro who went by the name of Pirlo, a fearsome warrior by the name of Vidal and an experienced journeyman by the name of Marchisio. Pogba is cutting his teeth in a midfield made up of a geriatric Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellani. Need I say more.
What’s strange is that Mourinho has access to a number of midfielders that could elevate Pogba’s game, and accommodate his unorthodox style. Maybe Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger are past their best, but the intelligent legs of Daily Blind, Morgan Schneiderlin or Ander Herrera could surely contribute.
Paul Pogba will come good. He has too much talent and too much desire not to. What he needs is a system and a supporting cast that can help him evolve. He’ll have to learn to stop trying to do everything, but I am sure he will, the top players always do. Write him off at your peril.
I’ll leave you with some of his best bits so you can remember what a talent this kid really is.