Paul Pogba: Manchester United captain material?

Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested that French midfielder Paul Pogba is captain material. Pogba has captained United under the management of Jose Mourinho but was sensationally removed as a contender to wear the armband after a series of poor performances which led to more speculation that Pogba and Mourinho were on bad terms. There was a lot of speculation that suggested this and in the media, it seemed to be constant.

Mourinho was sacked as United manager in December after many poor results this season and Solskjaer was chosen to come in as the caretaker manager, initially until the end of the season. It has been said that United will be seeking a new permanent manager and that they will be in place during the summer. At this moment in time, Solskjaer has shown how he has grown as a manager after a poor spell as Cardiff City manager around four years ago, doing well with Molde in his native Norway.

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Solskjaer’s comments, although there is context there can be taken wrongly. Especially if you only read parts. It does not mean he’s ready to install Pogba as the new club captain. The Norwegian confirmed that Ashley Young would be the first-choice player to take the armband at this moment in time and that Antonio Valencia would still remain as the club captain. It does, however, suggest that Pogba could be in line with a return to the captaincy in the future, especially if Solskjaer becomes the next permanent manager.

“I know the boy from before and he is a leader. He’s a character, he influences people and you’ve seen the videos from France, and he cares and he really wants to be successful. He knows he can’t do it by himself, it’s a team game and he’s a character that brings so many good things with him when he’s enjoying himself. 

“You see the personality. He loves playing football, he’s a larger-than-life character, that’s just the way he is. When the performances come as well, that marries together as a good leader and you see what it meant to him winning the World Cup. So for me, yes, he’s captain material.”

Solskjaer will lead his team out at the Emirates Stadium this evening as United face Arsenal in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup. His side has won their last seven matches in both the Premier League and the FA Cup and Solskjaer will be seeking to extend that to eight matches, which could well be possible considering the players United have available at this moment in time. It would be a great victory in London and the players will be up for it, including Pogba.

Since the sacking of Mourinho, Pogba has had his best run of form whilst playing for United. In the last six matches, he has scored five goals and added a further four assists. His level of professionalism has been second to none under Solskjaer and he seems to be happy to play for the club. It seems to be a 360-degree turnaround since his days under Mourinho. There were times that Pogba called for United to attack under Mourinho, something the Frenchman is seeing under Solskjaer.

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I am not saying that Pogba should be the captain of the club but he is one of the leading contenders to the role at the club, which will be an important one. Many will look back to his leadership for France at the FIFA World Cup in Russia last summer. Videos of his preparing the team in the dressing room went viral and the player seemed to be at his happiest whilst playing for France, coming back to United and seeming like a completely different player.

That era should be put to rest now as it is never going to change. What United and the manager, whoever that may be in the summer, will need to do is look at all options at the club and see which player would be best suited to the captaincy at the club. It is clear that Pogba holds the respect of his teammates and supporters around the world see him as one of, if not the best player at the club right now, so he should be considered.

Of course, Pogba would wear the armband this season under Solskjaer yet as Young will not be playing every game and Valencia has been on the sidelines for the majority of matches since Solskjaer took over from Mourinho, which suggests that his role at the club will be bit part, if anything. Pogba, and others, may have the opportunity to lead the team out this season. David De Gea has done so already under Solskjaer, so the captaincy, at least for matches, could be passed around amongst a chosen few.

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