When I read the trending feed on Sky Sports News suggesting that Paul Pogba had somehow been mismanaged, I was slightly bemused, but it’s an interesting thought as all parties concerned try to explain why one of the world’s biggest and most talented midfield stars hasn’t blossomed at one of the world’s biggest clubs.
Is it that no one understands his curious talent ? Is it that the current and previous managers have been using him in the wrong system, surrounded by the wrong players ?
Is he not appreciated or encouraged enough ?
Well, the bottom line is you can look at all the angles, but the picture doesn’t become any clearer. Pogba is the archetypal modern player, bigger than the club and bigger than the game. Someone who was born to star in a team full of equally precocious talent, such as the Galacticos.
This is of course the image that Pogba has made for himself. He seems disinterested, difficult, demanding and dysfunctional and if Alex Ferguson couldn’t bring out the best in the young Frenchman, then its unlikely that even Klopp or Guardiola could do any better.
He arrived at Old Trafford in 2009 and by 2011 he was sold on to Juventus at the age of 19 for £1m. The move was inevitable and Ferguson was his usual prickly and mischievous self when he said of the midfielder’s departure:
“Pogba signed for Juventus a long time ago as far as we’re aware, It’s a bit disappointing because I don’t think he showed us any respect at all. To be honest, if they carry on that way, I’m quite happy that he’s away, from me, anyway.”
In private, Ferguson is said to be even more forthright referring to the player’s ego and his laziness, so if you are looking to solve the Pogba puzzle, look no further than the man himself.
Pogba is a talent, no denying that but he turns it on and off like a tap. It’s based on the importance of his own profile and the stage involved at the time.
Egotistically, Pogba has no interest in playing Wolves or Brighton, he wants to show off against Barcelona or Bayern Munich every week, anything else is beneath his chiselled chops.
Mourinho, who made the mistake of bringing back the untameable player, was considered to be one the top three managers on the planet at the time, but he failed to coax out his talent and clashed repeatedly with the player.
He should have noted Ferguson’s relief when he sold the Frenchman and there is no doubt that the pair spoke at length about his return over a glass of red.
During which time, Fergie would have bruised the Special One’s ears with tales of his lack-lustre performances and petulant behaviour.
He definitely might have mentioned how his relationship with Pogba became toxic when the Frenchman appointed Mino Raiola as his agent. Ferguson showed contempt for agents in genera,l but he liked Raiola even less, referring to him as a “shit bag”.
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Pogba is primed to leave, he pottered around Old Trafford last season offering nothing, playing well within himself and below the expected standards.
Not even the introduction of Solskjær could lift his mediocre performances and Ferguson has probably already whispered in the current manager’s ear, suggesting he should jettison the problem for as much as he can get, as quickly as he can.
Has Pogba been mismanaged ? No, of course not but he is in danger of becoming unmanageable.