World-record transfer Paul Pogba says that the loss to Manchester City is only a bump in the road in a long season. The once Manchester United youth product who has returned to Old Trafford came at a price. The £89 million price tag on Pogba is hefty but appeared worth it considering the Frenchman’s potential and dominance in the midfield. However, Pogba’s first big challenge since returning to United was this past Saturday against City at Old Trafford, but the midfielder disappointed the home crowd as he could never get himself into the game. There were moments of brilliance from Pogba but he failed to appear regularly during the match. Following the 2-1 loss, Pogba took to social media to say;
“The season is just starting, we don’t lose, we learn. United we stand.”
Though Pogba was not the only underperforming player for the Red Devils on Saturday, he was the only one who had the world-record price tag to live up to. It may be wrong to criticize him but the midfielder was up for grabs during the match at times and Pogba never took advantage of that. United did look better in the second half but the damage was done during the first 45 minutes of play where United fell behind 2-1 to the Citizens. Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan also fell short of expectations and were subsequently substituted at half time. The introduction of Marcus Rashford sparked a lot of positive play from United but it came too late. Manager Jose Mourinho felt that the blame for the loss has to be shared between him and the players who he trusted to perform in the first half of the Derby.
“I had two or three players in the first half that, if I know what is going to happen, I don’t play them. But this is football and sometimes players disappoint managers.
“It’s my fault because I’m the manager and it’s always my fault because it’s my choice.
“I think in the first half they were much better than us. We started the game bad, with some players really below their normal level in terms of their concentration.
“The second half was completely different. We were in control, we were much more dangerous and we had chances to equalise and who knows what would have happened.”
City was the better side, and Mourinho is aware of that. United’s players are still getting used to one another after a busy transfer window, but that cannot be an excuse after the perfect start the club had. Pogba went missing and will have to turn things around soon to get United back on track starting with a UEFA Europa League group stage match at Feyenoord on Thursday. United should shake up the lineup for that match because the team needs to keep focus on the Premier League. This will give the chance to players who are still out to prove they deserve to start on a regular basis. It is also an opportunity for Pogba to put on a display. He will need to win over some of his critics because whether he likes it or not or whether he deserves it or not, there will always be criticism for his performances due to his hefty price tag.
It used to be that captain Wayne Rooney received the bulk of criticism at United but that might shift over to Pogba if he does not perform better. He needs to simply get more involved on the ball because in moments where he does find himself in possession, he looks brilliant. There is plenty of potential in this United side including Pogba who can become the face of the club and help the team get back to the top where it belongs.