Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has accepted that Manchester United might have hurried Paul Pogba’s return to action after he tested positive for COVID-19. The Frenchman was diagnosed for the same while on international duty ahead of the start of the new season. Pogba subsequently isolated and recovered a week ahead of Manchester United’s 2020-21 campaign.
He was immediately drafted into the first team and went on to start in all of United’s first three matches in the league. However, Pogba cut a sorry figure and received severe criticism for his performances against Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion, and Tottenham Hotspur. Manchester United ended up losing two of those three games.
Pogba was left out of the starting XI in Manchester United’s last three games, as he came off the bench against Newcastle United, Paris Saint-Germain, and Chelsea. Interestingly, the Frenchman has looked sharper and had a positive impact as a substitute in all of those three games.
And Solskjaer has now admitted that putting Pogba in the starting eleven as soon as he recovered from COVID-19 might have been a little unfair.
Pogba has impressed the Manchester United manager with his performance off the bench
The Manchester United manager pointed out that having it was nice to have options on the bench who can come on and make a difference in the game. He also accepted that Pogba had impressed him with his performance off the bench.
"When you've got good players it's a nice challenge and a decision to make when you've got good players on the bench that can come on and impact the game. I think Paul, all three games this week, he's really come on and made a very positive impact."
Solskjaer revisited Pogba’s tryst with coronavirus and went on to accept that he might have been unfair to the Manchester United midfielder at the start of the season.
"He's been out for a while with coronavirus this summer, so he's getting better and better and maybe more his shape. Maybe I was unfair to him starting him that early in the first few games but he's coming on and he's done great when he's come on."
Manchester United settled for a 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday, a game that sparked to life after Pogba came to the pitch. The Frenchman had a similar impact after coming on against Newcastle and PSG.
Against the Magpies, Pogba replaced Fred in the 69th minute with the game still tied at 1-1 and was at the center of the Manchester United storm that blew away Newcastle in the last five minutes of the game.
In midweek against the Ligue 1 champions, the Frenchman was similarly introduced with the score at 1-1. It turned out to be a masterstroke, as Pogba eventually assisted Marcus Rashford, who scored a late winner in Paris once again.
So, is the time ripe for Pogba to return to the Manchester United starting eleven? The answer will be evident when United take on RB Leipzig in midweek.
Published 25 Oct 2020, 23:36 IST