The Perennial Pogba Problem

One goal and one assist in Saint Petersburg against Russia cemented Paul Pogba’s place as a key player for a young and talented French team in this summer’s World Cup.  Away from ‘dabbing’, flash haircuts and millions of Instagram followers, Paul Pogba is a talented footballer yet to fulfil his potential at Manchester United. An impressive World Cup would drive up Paul Pogba’s transfer value even further but Manchester United should look to embrace his flair and creativity rather than offload him to a continental rival.

Playing for France, Paul Pogba is unleashed in a more forward role given the chance to dictate the tempo of the game and assert his influence. In a 4-3-3, Pogba is given more licence to roam without the defensive responsibility he has seen at Manchester United at the base of a 4-2-3-1.

This potential has been seen in Manchester United games but playing deeper makes it more difficult to fully assert his influence on games. In last week’s blog, we highlighted key passes resulting in goalscoring opportunities and how Alexis Sanchez was leading statistics for this, within the Premier League with 27. Using Wyscout, Paul Pogba is still 8th on the list with 16 key passes; even from a deep lying playmaker role Pogba is still influencing games.

To get the best out of him , Jose Mourinho should push him further forward or reducing his defensive responsibilities to help him flourish.  Although, does this fit into Manchester United’s system? Jesse Lingard is having a great season but to push the current team to the next level sacrifices need to be made to get the best out of Paul Pogba.

Although, traditionally when players have become bigger than the club, Manchester United or should we say Air Alex Ferguson, has tended to let them leave. David Beckham to Real Madrid and Jaap Stam to Lazio all came after significant media attention that distracted the team and focused on one individual. Jose Mourinho should learn from his latest tenure at Chelsea, where player power run through, and there could be early indications of him adapting to meet Paul Pogba’s eccentric personality.

Constant media attention, in particular social media, is now part of the day job of a professional footballer. Mourinho should embrace Pogba’s personality and look to push him further forward relinquishing him of defensive responsibilities and playing to his creative side. Flair is not necessarily best associated with Jose Mourinho, but it certainly is of Paul Pogba, and embracing that could be the key to unlocking the key to the next domestic title.

About the Author

James Curran
I'm a keen football enthusiast supporting Manchester United and love to write about tactics and analysis.