Pogba still struggling to fit in at Man U 4 years on

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 00:00 |
Paul Pogba.

London, Monday

Manchester United’s inability to turn huge financial resources into a fully functioning team is personified by Paul Pogba’s struggle to justify a place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s far from outstanding side.

Not for the first time, Pogba spoke of his frustrations at club level on international duty for France last week, where he again shone as the World Cup winners booked their place in the final four of the Nations League.

Brought back to United for a then world record £89 million ($118 million) fee in 2016, Pogba’s second spell at Old Trafford has been one of fits and starts, without ever living up to expectations for long spells.

Repeatedly leaving Pogba out was one of the factors that led to Jose Mourinho’s dismissal as United boss in December 2018. 

But nearly two years on, another manager, Solskjaer, has reached the same conclusion.

Pogba has started just one of United’s last five Premier League games, in which he gave away the match-winning penalty in a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal.

In three of the four league games Solskjaer has picked Pogba from the start, United have lost at Old Trafford, including a 6-1 humiliation by Tottenham in which the 27-year-old was guilty of conceding another spot-kick.

Where Pogba once had the star power and price tag to justify his place, he is no longer even United’s most influential midfielder.

Bruno Fernandes took his tally to 19 goals in 34 appearances since joining in January from Sporting Lisbon with the winner in an uninspiring 1-0 victory over West Brom on Saturday.

Pogba missed that clash due to a slight injury, but Solskjaer expects him to be fit for Tuesday’s visit of Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.

Other than a handful of promising performances when the Premier League returned from a three-month shutdown due to coronavirus in June, Solskjaer has yet to find a way to match Fernandes and Pogba in the same midfield without being overrun.

The two started the first three league games of this season together when they conceded 11 goals to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Spurs. -AFP

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