July,2012. Amidst the growing speculation of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, Manchester United prepared to win their record 20th English First Division title with a statement signing of Robin Van Persie from Arsenal. With legends including Paul Scholes, Park Ji-Sung departing the club, then small boy Paul Pogba with ambitions of ruling the world with a heavy heart left Manchester United for Juventus in pursuit of first team football.
Five years later, the prodigal son, Paul Pogba returned to his home, Manchester United. With on a five-year contract for a then-record for highest football transfer fee at €105 million (£89.3 million) plus bonuses of €5 million, surpassing the former record holder Gareth Bale.
Having established himself himself as a world class midfielder in his five years at Juventus, Pogba came in and reignited hopes among the frustrated Manchester United fans. They were yet to see their club win a Premier League trophy since SAF left. Yet, with him being highly effective when deployed as a free man in the midfield, Pogba was reduced to a much deeper role and had a disappointing first season.
Having starred for Juventus and then become the most expensive player in the world, expectation became unrealistically high. His failure to re-adjust to English football, gave rise to media and rival fans criticism. Judged for fancy hairstyle and impeccable attitude, Pogba tried to deliver his best in the last season, but to simply put his game down to goals and assists is a foolish measurement, given that he has never scored more than 10 goals in a season. He wasn’t bought to score goals, but when you consider he has hit the woodwork eight times this season, it’s hard to ignore how unlucky he has been.
When you also look at how wasteful United have been in front of goal, it’s clear that Pogba has missed out on a fair few assists, given the chances his teammates haven’t taken. In their seven home draws, United had 136 shots but only scored five goals. One can only imagine how many assists the Frenchman could have claimed if the players he was passing to could then simply put the ball in the back of the net.
Pogba has always been a different, unique character. Of course, with the amount of talent that he possesses, he is bound to be different from others. He is meant to be special, to be someone who could instill fear in the opposition hearts. There is a sense of enigma about Pogba that sets him apart from others.
Pogba’s technical abilities are never in doubt. When he has the ball, he can effortlessly make his adversary look like some non-league defender. He has that vision that helps him find his teammates standing anywhere on the pitch.
Pogba possesses enviable control over the ball. Hence he hardly ever looks like being dispossessed even when a bunch of players hound upon him. He always finds way to get out of that crowded space, as if to make way for himself. It is a testament for his tendency to stay apart from the crowd, to make sure that people notice what he is capable of doing. That is, of course effortlessly making some brilliant defenders look embarrassed and distraught on hostile territory.
It was a matter of time as he fought back and silenced the critics as he went to find his form in the 2018 World Cup and score an all important goal in final against Croatia. Without Pogba’s initial moment of genius, though — one of many he conjured during the past month from the center of France’s midfield — the feisty Croatians might have pulled off yet another comeback in this tournament.
Pogba’s goal ultimately became decisive in 4-2 victory that made the French World Champions for the second time, two decades after current head coach Didier Deschamps and then superstar midfielder Zinedine Zidane helped win the first.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 15, 2018
This tournament might become the platform for Pogba eventually to become a legend. He would have been a deserving Golden Ball winner; the award that goes to the tournament’s best player instead it became a fitting consolation prize for Croatia’s excellent Luka Modric.
Pogba spent so much of this tournament at the core of so many positive developments for France. He defended, he attacked, he created. He was a complete midfielder for France.
Teammate Ngolo Kante was at the core of the midfield defense, but Pogba contributed regularly. And when he won the ball back, Pogba was a eternal threat in dribblling forward as he did to help set up Antoine Griezmann’s clincher in the Uruguay quarterfinal or to cut loose a pass like the one to Mbappe. He was the player for France in the World Cup that so many Manchester United fans had expected to see when their club bought him two years ago for more money than had ever been paid for a professional soccer player.
Pogba, ahead of the one the most important season for Mancheter United and Mourinho, was praised by both his managers with Mourinho showing the more diplomatic side of his. Mourinho confirmed he passed on congratulations to Pogba and hailed his performances during the latter stages of the competition, according to Metro reports.
United boss now hopes the club’s record signing has the awareness to bring this form of his into the Premier League.
“I hope that he understands why he was very good,”
“I think that’s the point about his performance level and his contribution to a winning team – for him to understand why he was so good, especially in the second part of the competition. In the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final he was absolutely brilliant.”
“To win the World Cup can only be a positive thing. It’s difficult to say that to win the World Cup is not good for a player’s career. So many good players never have the change to be a World Champion.
“It’s a young [France] team, apart from [Olivier] Giroud, [Hugo] Lloris and a few others they are all young and have more years to play together. “The future for [Pogba] in the French national team, among that fantastic group of players, can only be brilliant.”
Jose Mourinho on Pogba after France World Cup Glory
As the football world prepares for a new Premier League season, Manchester United fans in particular are again excited to watch Pogba play at his best and bring the Premier League Trophy back at Old Trafford.
With the new signing of Fred, Pogba is expected to have more free role in midfield than last year. And, United can play as a team with Pogba leading from the front, a treble is not a dream, but something which Manchester United can achieve in forthcoming season.
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