What to Make of the Enigmatic and Frustrating Paul Pogba?

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Nov 19, 2018 03:07 PM EST
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If you scoured through the leagues of global football, you will find very few midfielders as highly-rated by coaches as Paul Pogba. Sergio Busquets and Kevin De Bruyne are arguably better. You could also make a case for the Real Madrid pairing of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. After that, it's hard to find another classic central midfielder to match Pogba's talents.

"Talents" is the important word here though, because Pogba does not always use his to full effect. Sure, he is a World Cup winner and his move back to Manchester United held the world transfer record at the time, but Pogba certainly has his critics. Indeed, when you look at the list of talented midfielders above, the one thing that separates Pogba from them is that they are arguably operating at the peak of their powers, whereas the Frenchman, one feels, has plenty of room to grow.

As mentioned, Pogba has no shortage of pundits ready to point out his shortcomings. However, it's not always clear whether their issue is with Pogba's game or the man himself. You would be surprised at the number of people, paid for their analysis on a match, who have an opinion on the Frenchman's latest haircut.

Pogba's merits need to be better understood

Certainly, Pogba is not perfect on the pitch, but he often gets singled out for criticism when the rest of the team are struggling. Do truly analyse his game, it's important to appreciate the entire performance. A player in Pogba's position does more than pass, score and put in tackles, it's about controlling the tempo of the game, dictating the action.

Pogba's critics, backed up with statistics, will point to misplaced passes and the player being dispossessed by the opposition, but there is so much positivity to his game, like a baseball slugger swinging every pitch for a home run. If you watch live football streaming of Pogba's games for United or France for the entire 90 minutes, you'll see that in action. Of all players at Old Trafford, Pogba embodies the mantra of the United fans' famous chant "Attack, Attack, Attack!". Always thinking about moving the ball forward, even if he should be thinking about safer passages of play.

There is also a wider truth about Pogba that needs to be discussed, namely that his best performances will only come if he has the players around him to help him. Like a star quarterback in an average team, Pogba is not going to 'throw' great passes if nobody is there to receive them.

United's chances dismissed by betting companies

United have slipped in recent times. Look at the latest odds for them to win the Premier League and Champions League - 66/1 and 33/1 respectively with Betfair. Never before have the Red Devils been rated so far behind in a race this early in the season. To make matters worse, their bitter rivals, Manchester City, are the 4/11 favourites for the Premier League and 7/2 favourites for the Champions League.

One can argue, of course, that Pogba should be making this team great, that a good workman does not blame his tools. To a degree, that is true. Pogba's main issue is his decision-making, knowing when to pass, shoot, attack and defend. However, that can be easily learned and it's easy forget that he is still a young player at 25-years-old. If he can make those couple of changes, bring a little discipline to his game, we could be looking at one of the greatest midfielders of his generation.

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