The Manchester Derby did little to give Manchester United fans much optimism for next season, and it also didn’t show any potential sign to resolving the conundrum that is Paul Pogba.
What the 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Manchester City did confirm on Wednesday, is the gulf in class between the two sides, and the size of the potential rebuilding job facing manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Before he entertains the rebuilding though, he needs to address the enigmatic Paul Pogba. The Frenchman should be the pillar Solskjaer is looking to build his side around, so he must be the first name on the list of problems to solve for the United manager.
Stick Or Twist?
Pogba has previously been rumoured to want to leave Old Trafford. Part of his original problems with previous manager Jose Mourinho seemed to start when there were stories linking the Frenchman with a move away from Old Trafford.
Solskjaer has been at the club for long enough now to have worked out whether he believes Pogba really wants to be there. It’s unlikely the crowd would have a problem if Ole dumped the Frenchman, they don’t seem to be convinced he wants to be there.
Sporadic boos could be heard at times in the 2nd half of the Manchester Derby when the Frenchman had the ball. Yes, this could possibly have been City fans, but chances are they were from the United end.
It’s also a strong possibility that Sir Alex Ferguson would be advising Solskjaer to get rid of him. Fergie has dumped him before, and it is well known that Solskjaer listens to Ferguson’s advice.
Pogba’s Premier League Stats Are Positive
On the flip side, with 3 matches to go in the 2019 Premier League season, Pogba has 13 goals and 9 assists. Paul Pogba has the most Premier League goals of any midfielder this season, his stats only add to the conundrum.
His peers have just named him in the PFA team of the year, the only player from outside of Manchester City and Liverpool to make the 11. He must be doing something right. Although I would have – wrongly – predicted it wouldn’t have been one of the best football bets to place.
It’s fair to say Pogba’s inclusion in the team of the year has raised an eyebrow or two though.
World Cup Winner
Pogba played a massive part in France’s 2018 World Cup triumph. How could you dump a guy with that pedigree? Does this prove theory that he only plays when it suits him? Or is it a case of waiting for a player of unquestionable talent to come good?
When Pogba is on song, he is a world beater. United fans could count the world beating performances he has produced on one hand though.
A player of his character and ability should be grabbing this team by the scruff of the neck. He should be leading his team mates, pulling them along with him. I’m not sure this has ever happened.
Even the remarkable 3-1 win in Paris reflected badly on the Frenchman. It could have been his crowning glory, but he was suspended after picking up a stupid red card in the 1st leg.
Propensity To Down Tools
It’s a hard one to prove, and no one really knows other than the player. But there is a theory that Pogba has the propensity to down tools. In itself, not a great selling point for any player.
The difference in performances after previous boss Jose Mourinho was sacked was staggering. He looked like a new player under Solskjaer. Now since an international break, his performance levels seem to have dropped off again.
The international break seemed to coincide with stories linking him away from Old Trafford, again. Do these stories have credence, or are they simply journalists trying to create a story off the back of some indifferent performances?
Weighing up the pros and cons of Paul Pogba is a hard call, it’s not difficult to see why this conundrum is one that might be giving Solskjaer sleepless nights.
I do get the feeling it’s a decision Ole can’t afford to get wrong though. Otherwise his managerial career at Old Trafford, may well follow a similar route to that of his predecessor.