There are only so many words to describe Paul Pogba. Unique, masterful and courageous are just three, but in truth, you’d need a bigger dictionary to paint the complete the picture.
When Manchester United brought back the Frenchman to the club for a fee of £90m from Juventus, murmurs across the footballing hemisphere began to circulate. It was undeniable that as the Red Devils were paying a world record transfer fee for the midfielder they were also making a catastrophic loss on a player, who left the club in 2011 for Italy.
His form on the continent was so impressive that a majority of United supporters were expecting to see Pogba thrive week in week out in the Premier League, torturing the opposition by single-handedly taking control of games.
Unfortunately, the fact is that the idea of Pogba dominating matches on his own hasn’t transpired, with Jose Mourinho using a 4-2-3-1 formation to suit Romelu Lukaku up-front. The side effect of that is that Pogba has played in a deeper role with Nemanja Matic, and given the structure is quite rigid, Pogba cannot express the full range of his skills.
So the injury to the Belgian striker is somewhat of a blessing because Mourinho had to alter the shape with no recognised striker. The United manager is the right man to take the club forward but he has one major weakness – his stubbornness.
For United to have any chance of closing the gap to Manchester City, and keeping Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool behind them, is to allow their best outfield player the freedom of Manchester, let alone the pitch.
At Juventus, Pogba played on the left of a midfield three and continually ran the show. It was not much of a surprise to see that against Everton, in the same position he did the same.
The home side’s rearguard simply had no answer. With the fluid attack of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata, United constantly interchanged play, with Pogba the protagonist in linking up the play.
The Frenchman used the space to push forward, looking for a forward pass at every opportunity in an attempt to be the key to unlock the Everton door. The pass to Martial was a thing of beauty. It set the trend for the three points.
It’s now 435 days since Pogba ended up on a losing United team in a league game (Chelsea, October 2016). Since then he’s played in 34 games, and in that period without him, the Red Devils have suffered defeat five times.
If Pogba stays fit in a 4-3-3 then United may just be a force to be reckoned with.