He dances after goals, he pulls off nifty tricks that make for enjoyable YouTube videos, but Paul Pogba has to learn to end the flashiness and begin to focus on the three points. French national team boss Didier Deschamps agrees, Pogba needs to pocket the flash and concentrate on his struggling Manchester United side. The French midfielder signed for a world-record £89 million back in the summer transfer window but the big-money transfer has not yet paid off on the field. Deschamps seems to believe that this is due to his countryman’s showboating.
“Even when he does things well it’s not good enough. So we can understand that it may encourage him to do things that are out of the ordinary but not necessarily helpful.
“He can do things that others do not, but it must also be the reality of what is good for the team. We’re talking about a young player. He is at a club where he is also used in different positions.”
United is in a slump. Draw after draw. Points dropped on a far too consistent basis. Only so much blame can be put on a manager so the players need to take a lot of the heat at this point. United, on paper, should be one of the best teams in the world. Instead, the Red Devils sit a point above West Brom on the table and are 13 points behind league-leading Chelsea. The Blues have a new manager in Antonio Conte after a rough title-defending season led by Jose Mourinho before his mid-season sacking by the London-based club. Now, with Mourinho running the team at Old Trafford, the Portuguese is having another dreadful start. It is United’s worst start in 26 years.
Pogba is not much of a scorer. He is creative, though, and should be doing more of it. He has played enough for United now that he should be lighting up the pitch when he is on the ball. He makes some tasks look incredibly easy but the problem that United has with Pogba at the moment is that the midfielder lacks consistency. He is not a goalscorer but he needs to find ways to create goals for teammates. If he cannot, United will continue to struggle. He falls absent during matches and that is a problem for the club. Pogba is an immense talent who can provide a spark in attack but he is yet to do it. He comes alive a couple of times during a match but that is not good enough for 90 minutes.
He is a special player and yes, time will be good to him. He has plenty of it. He is still young and it does not seem like he only plans to be at United for a brief stint. Pogba has returned home and surely wants to get it right in front of his first ever fan base. He is the most expensive player in the world, and that fact does not mean he is the best scorer. He is not a scorer, he is a creator, a ball-winner, a midfield mastermind. Give him time and he will prove the critics wrong. He is not Lionel Messi. He is not Cristiano Ronaldo. He is Paul Pogba. Deschamps knows that Pogba wants recognition as the best in the world, but the French manager thinks that goal could be unrealistic because of Pogba’s role.
“He’s a midfielder. The Ballons d’Or are attackers or No. 10s, with rare exceptions. These are players who score goals. Paul? He scores, but he will not score three goals every game.”
Pogba will come right, and when he does, he will be devastatingly good. Patience is needed at the moment as his teammates adjust to playing with him. Pogba needs to recognise that he is playing for the name on the front of his kit and not the name on the back. He will learn this lesson, which will then show the true value that Pogba brings to the team. After all, football is a team sport.