Bournemouth were the latest victims of a revitalized Manchester United attack under the new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they went 4-1 down at Old Trafford. Paul Pogba was the star of the night against Bournemouth with his two goals and deservedly was named the man of the match.
After leaving United in 2012, Pogba began to develop as a World class midfielder at Juventus where he was deployed on the left-hand side in an experienced mid field set up consisting of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio.
Even though, Pogba was utilised under Mourinho in the same position, he never truly found his footing under the Portuguese tactician. The hefty transfer fees of 89 million pounds which made him the World’s most expensive midfielder also didn’t help his cause. Often the critics were at him for being inconsistent for United.
But what really made the fans sorry for Pogba was when he was stripped of his United captaincy by Jose Mourinho after a couple of below par performances. The relation between Mourinho and Pogba reached a new low when Mourinho gave the youthful and inexperienced Scott Mctominay a starting berth in the United line-up ahead of the Frenchman. In the Liverpool match which ended Mourinho’s miserable United campaign, Pogba started on the bench and had to see his side humbled by a dominant Liverpool attack.
Fast forwarding to the present, Pogba has already managed an impressive total of seven goals and six assists for United this season. In fact, this season might become the Frenchman’s best ever in club football. Another interesting fact about Pogba’s performance is that, the midfield maestro is just two goals short of overturning his career best of eight goals (Juventus 2014-15, 2015-2016).
Much of the credit for Pogba’s upturn in form should go to new United boss Solskjaer who has allowed the player a free role in the United midfield. This has enabled Pogba to contribute to the United attack significantly with his pinpoint passes without worrying about defensive duties. Which was certainly the case under Mourinho.
‘Paul’s enjoying his football. He’s playing in the role he likes to play in just inside, off the left. He has the freedom to make things happen.
He has always got forward in that position and scored goals. ‘Ole has helped him 100 per cent. He has given him the confidence and licence to be free, to play his game and do what we know he can.’
Solskjaer’s man management skills was also praised by Lingard who too appears to be brimming with confidence under the Norwegian.
“He is great,” “He is great one on one with players. Great man-management. He will always speak to you and tell you what to do. “He’s very special to this club and for this club. He knows where Man United has to be and that is at the very top and putting in performances like we did today.”
The player also looked happier and sharper in front of goal due to his new-found freedom.
“When it goes well or it goes bad, everybody is watching him,” Melchiot told Sky Sports.
“I like him as a player and watching him with the happiness that he had (against Bournemouth).
“That’s how I was introduced to him, he was a lively kid with a lot of energy and a lot of happiness, I think that’s what he is bringing to the field now.
“He is so key because of the position he plays. I always felt that when people played him out of position you were never going to get the best out of him. When they gave him the free role, he really delivered.
“I know there are many moments in the season when he didn’t take the opportunity as well as he is taking them now. “He is the player that Manchester United need. He can make United be what they want to be.”
Pogba is the most improved player under Solskjaer accounting for the most goals, most assists, most shots, most shots on target and most chances created at the club. Fans will hope that Pogba will carry on the style under the Norwegian.
United face Newcastle next on Wednesday where they will be looking to continue the winning streak under Solskjaer.