Analysis: What is the problem with Paul Pogba?

Paul Pogba has come under some very heavy criticism since joining Manchester United for a world record fee
Paul Pogba has come under some very heavy criticism since joining Manchester United for a world record fee

Paul Pogba has been getting a lot of criticism recently but, if I am ever negative about him, it is only because he is such a wonderfully gifted player that I want to see him do so much more.

Although the £89m Manchester United midfielder has not been making or scoring the goals I would expect from him in the past few weeks, that is partly down to the role he has been asked to play and the players who are around him.

United manager Jose Mourinho needs balance in his team and he is still trying to find his best XI.

Deal of the day

Mourinho has got so much attacking talent that sometimes Pogba is asked to play deeper, and he has also had to build a new relationship with Alexis Sanchez since the Chile international joined United from Arsenal in January.

Pogba has had to work out what Sanchez is going to do when he cuts inside, and where he fits into that, and learn how to adapt his game and find his own space.

All of that has affected the impact the France international has had on matches, not just with his goals and assists, but with his shots and the number of chances he has created.

Mourinho sending out message – but not just to Pogba

Mourinho dropped Pogba for the first leg of their Champions League tie with Sevilla, but I am not sure what the manager’s motivation was with that decision.

Pogba is United’s best midfielder and he also straight back in the starting XI for their next game.

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It was a kick up the backside, like many people said, but not just for Pogba. I don’t think it was about getting more out of him, because he would have cracked on anyway.

Sometimes as a manager you make an example of a player to show the others that everyone has to chip in and do the job they are told, not the job they want to do.

Paul Pogba before and after Sanchez’s arrival

I have had managers say to me in the past that, because I was a senior player, they were going to criticise me in a team meeting because, if I could get it, then the other players would have to take it as well. I was just asked to take it nicely on the chin.

We don’t know why Mourinho put Pogba on the bench in Spain but he might have said to him that he is doing it to send a message to the rest of the team – and that he would be back against Chelsea at the weekend.

People have to understand the dynamics of that kind of decision and I don’t think we can speculate on the relationship between Mourinho and Pogba on the back of it, because we don’t know what has been said behind closed doors.

I don’t see a player who is unhappy

What I would say in response to the stories about Pogba being unhappy with his treatment or that his future at United is in doubt, is that he has not reacted to what happened in a negative way.

I judge players by what I see from their body language on the pitch and when Pogba came on against Sevilla after being substituted against Tottenham and then dropped, he was hungry, sharp, put himself about and did not look in any way whatsoever as if he was sulking.

Since then, while he did not put in an outstanding individual performance against Chelsea or Crystal Palace, on both occasions he was part of a United side that came from behind to win.

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