Why Paul Pogba will be the main man for Manchester United in 2017

By on December 30, 2016

How do you measure value for money when it comes to world-record signings?

Is it goals and assists? Shirt sales? Trophies? Or even just staying fit?

Looking back, it’s been easy to tell the successes from the failures – for every Johan Cruyff there’s been a Denilson.

For Manchester United fans, breaking the world-record transfer fee for the first time in the club’s history sent out a statement in bringing Paul Pogba ‘home’.

In years gone by, the value of the lira and the pull of the Galacticos meant that English sides could never truly compete in bidding wars.

The Pogba deal suggested that was about to change.

Sure, the Reds may have been foolish enough to let Pogba go in the first place, but the club still had the pull, clout and humility to bring him back.

Thinking back to Pogba’s second debut against Southampton, rarely had such optimism surrounded Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.

Already, after just two games, Jose Mourinho had led his side to the top of the table and fans were dreaming of their first sustained title challenge in three years.

It has not quite worked out that way and Pogba, rightly or wrongly, has been in the firing line.

The hype, the Instagram videos, the Hollywood-style trailers, the cryptic hints – it all created an expectation that few could live up to.

Forget the fact that the 23-year-old has completed the most successful through balls in the Premier League or has a 84.3% average pass completion rate.

Pogba made the FIFPro World XI in 2015

Fans want that moment of genius to show them there’s something to Pogba’s dream of winning the Ballon d’Or – however unrealistic it seems.

Despite his relaxed demeanour, and languid strut, you could tell Pogba was looking for that very moment in his first few games.

Ambitious long shots, Hollywood passes and ill-advised dribbles suggested this was a player with a point to prove.

All the while, he was played out of position: saddled with tactical responsibility in a shaky two-man pivot alongside Marouane Fellaini; constantly finding Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his way in more advanced areas; or failing to set the world alight in the No.10 role.

Slowly, with the calming influence and guidance of Michael Carrick, Pogba has begun to find his feet and that man of the match display against Sunderland on Boxing Day was a joy to behold.

While he may still be guilty of admiring one crossfield ball too many, playing in a midfield three has finally allowed Pogba to thrive in his preferred left central midfield position for a consistent run of games.

Pogba has begun to find his feet under Jose Mourinho

After 18 games without creating a goal, the France star grabbed his first assist against West Ham last month and followed it up by setting up three more goals against Zorya, Crystal Palace and Sunderland in the space of two-and-a-half weeks.

With five goals to his name, Pogba remains on course to at least match his goal return for last season and it must be stressed that he is a slow starter.

After all, what really made the world sit up last season was how the 23-year-old grabbed six goals and seven assists in his final nine games for the Bianconeri.

Heading into Euro 2016, Pogba was one of Europe’s most in form players but, again, was inhibited by a system.

After finally getting his tactics right, Pogba will only get better under Mourinho – particularly with new additions easing the burden on him in the coming 12 months.

Who knows, he might prove value for money.

  • There is something fcuked up about the system when the best and brightest are incentivized to work in the finance industry which essentially contributes nothing to the nation, rather than becoming scientists, engineers, etc. and dir/nvescinoovate tangible products.

  • Ey, veo que os quejais en este episodio de la falta de comentarios. La verdad es que por esta época yo andaba bastante liado con examenes y otros asuntos y apenas tenia tiempo para escuchar podcasts… (como veis me estoy poniendo al dia un poco con retraso :-D)

  • Wat een lekker verhaal, de tweede keer dat je je vakantie beleeft. En met een uitgebreid traveljournal in het verschiet, ga je nog een keer terug naar Malta: GENIET ERVAN, hier is het herfst!Liefs Inge