Paul Pogba and Manchester United are still perfect for each other
An opinion on Paul Pogba's tenure and future prospects at Man United
It wasn't long ago when Manchester United fans throughout the world waited with bated breath as the log-drawn much-hyped Paul Pogba to Manchester United transfer saga panned out. It was no surprise that the whole world eagerly waited to see the jaunty Frenchman prancing about in the Theatre of Dreams and realizing his Manchester United dream.
Pogba's first season wasn't his best by any standards. 10 games in, and he was labelled a dud by pundits and football lovers alike. Looking at his off the field antics despite his struggling form, many feared that he was going to be yet another big name casualty in the Premier League.
But, in bits and pieces, in some sporadic moments of absolute beauty, we did witness the raw and unhindered talent of the Frenchman. As the season progressed, it looked like Pogba was finally showing his class which had garnered him such immediate fame.
Mourinho likes his players leashed and controlled, avoiding mistakes and seizing any opportunity that arises. The man is known to eke out the best from his players, and it was expected of him that he would turn Paul Pogba into the most vital cog of Manchester United.
Despite Mourinho's obvious proclivity towards pragmatism and his unusual notions of creative football, he, for the most part, has had some really imaginative players and mavericks in his teams, be it Ozil in Real Madrid or Hazard at Chelsea. There is no doubt that Pogba has oodles of creativity, vision, athleticism, physique and the hunger which would make him the perfect Jose Mourinho player any day.
It was expected from Pogba and co to really kick on and pose a serious challenge for the Premier League title this season. The Frenchman was splendid in the beginning until a hamstring problem halted the march.
Pogba came back strongly though, with inspiring displays against Arsenal and Everton, but his form dipped, largely because of his positional indiscipline and his lackadaisical off the ball work rate, which would have certainly displeased the man who brought him back to Manchester from Juventus and who once famously claimed that the United player could be great as a centreback.
Pogba has everything a footballer could desire. He passes with panache, he has some serious trekkers and tricks up his sleeve, he has an excellent footballing vision, he shoots with purpose. But one thing which hurts him is in fact one of those rare qualities in football which can easily be seen when one witnesses the likes of Neymar cavorting around and gliding through defenders.
Players like these make us fall in love with the game and make us ignore the tactical underpinnings of football. Its not that such players don't admire the idea of team game, Pogba is a great team player by the way, its just that they love their own style of play a bit more.
What happens is these free-spirited players start drifting in and out of the games, even prowling and sauntering at times. And given the position Mourinho plays Pogba in, centre of the midfield with Matic, his positional discipline and work-rate become essential and their non-fulfilment means some serious problems.
As we have all seen, Pogba likes to play from the left, doing everything going forward, a serious menacing presence for his opponents. But with the arrival of a new superstar in Alexis Sanchez, the problem of accommodating Pogba on that left side of the pitch is not a easy one to solve.
Sanchez, in every sense, is one of the first names on the team list and his arrival means that the list of Man United players willing to play on the left is a long one.
With his recent gaffes and subsequent substitutions, stories about Pogba's departure were bound to circulate and such stories might have a little more substance than what Mourinho states as absolute lies.
It is a shame if Pogba regrets joining this team, but there aren't many players in the world who would regret joining a club with a global stature like Manchester United.
Leaving United for another club in another league would not only be too convenient but also a tad evasive. Amid this crisis which has been blown out of proportions, staying and fighting is the best course of action if he aims to make his own mark in footballing history.
It is true that in a league like the Premier League and with a Sir Alex Ferguson bereft Manchester United, there is no guarantee of success, which makes success here all the more pronounced and gratifying. The mere prospect of this success attracts so many players to this league and to such teams.
Mourinho has a huge task in his hand. Traditionally known for transforming his players into warriors for his cause, he has struggled to convert his most prized asset into his most prolific one.
The Frenchman looks like the amalgamation of Vieira and Bergkamp, the flagbearers of Arsenal's battles against United. He could light up the Premier League on his own, but until now he has just looked a shadow of his Juventus self.
It is true that in football and in life, temperament and attitude are at times more important than talent.
Pogba has that attitude and hunger which still reaffirms one's belief in his future which is reflected in his marketing value. From the look of it, Paul Pogba and Manchester United look destined for each other.
Now, with superstars like Sanchez donning the famous red shirt spangled with the memories of those glorious years not so long ago, the onus is on Pogba to shine the brightest and step up to the expectations yoked to him.