Paul Pogba has yet to set the world aflame at Old Trafford, especially this season. The £90 million man has already been shown the door once at Manchester United – joining Juventus in 2012 after refusing a new contact – and the playmaker could be on his way once again. As has been documented by daily bet voted for by readers at the popular fan-generated site AskFans, Pogba does not seem happy with his current lot at the Red Devils.
So, what has gone wrong for the talented youngster? As is typical in football, fingers are pointing in all directions, but the majority of the fingers are pointing at Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s ‘never too shy to voice an opinion’ manager. Mourinho just does not seem happy at all with Pogba, even though the Frenchman has contributed three goals and ten assists this season, and has a passing completion percentage close to eighty-five percent.
If anything, Mourinho seems to have inherited the ‘no player is bigger than the club’ mentality of one of his legendary predecessors at Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson. Ferguson was quick to show the door to any player who grew to be bigger than their boots, no matter how important they were to the team – David Beckham, Jaap Stam and Lee Sharpe are three names that spring to mind. However, critics of Mourinho are pointing out that the Portuguese boss’s stance seem’s less ‘no player is bigger than the club’ and more ‘no player is bigger than me.’
Critics have also been unhappy with where Pogba has been deployed of late within Manchester United’s formation – when the Frenchman actually makes the first eleven. Mourinho has been toying with a 4-2-3-1 line up of late, with Pogba battling with Marouane Fellaini and Scott McTominay to play alongside Nemanja Matic as a more defensive-minded player. Manchester United fans are asking themselves why invest in one of the best playmakers in the world and give him a role just in front of the back four?
It also seems bizarre that over the past month or so, Mourinho has preferred the youngster McTominay in the starting line up over Pogba. No matter how decent a player McTominay maybe, he’s still only twenty-one and has less than a dozen career games to his name. Why select such a raw talent over a proven one who cost £90 million?
The truth could be that McTominay’s efficiency is more valuable to Mourinho than Pogba’s exuberance.
When picked, McTominay (and Fellaini too) is given a role and sticks to it. Pogba, however, has a tendency to want to be closer to the opposition goal and often leaves Matic to do it all on his own. If there’s one thing that can be said about Mourinho, it’s that when he sets up a team to play in a certain way, he expects his players to do exactly what they are told to do.
There seems no doubt that Pogba is not happy with his current role at Old Trafford, especially when that role involves starting on the bench or being subbed after an hour. Unhappy players are not effective players, and unhappy players tend not to develop as efficiently as their contented counterparts. Pogba has only just turned twenty-five so still has the potential to improve, although it seems difficult to see how he can improve with Mourinho using him in the manner in which he currently is.