Ex-Manchester United player Quinton Fortune believes that Paul Pogba will flourish at Old Trafford when given a free role in the squad. Pogba was given more freedom in the 4-1 victory over Leicester at the weekend, with Ander Herrera anchoring the midfield allowing Pogba and Juan Mata to contribute to the attack whilst Herrera focused on shielding the defence.
“For me, his role’s just got to be to play his game, let the team win and his natural ability will show. They’ve got more ball players around him now. [Juan] Mata and [Ander] Herrera allow him to be free. The problem with Pogba is that he is strong, can defend and attack – he can do everything. Sometimes that can be a negative thing. Just put him on the pitch, forget all the complications and the tactical stuff. Just let the kid play.
Fortune acknowledges that the midfield three of Mata, Herrera and Pogba has similarities to the system that he was deployed in at Juventus, when he was playing alongside Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal, arguably the partnership where Pogba looked the most impressive due to the freedom that he had t express himself:
“When he was so successful at Juve, the players around him were Pirlo and Vidal. He was allowed to express himself. Pirlo left and he took over that role and became more responsible. You’ll get to see that confidence, the understanding with team-mates. He’s come into a team where they’ve been playing a certain style for two years and he’s come in with a new style. [Jose] Mourinho’s trying to implement his way of playing.”
Pogba returned to Old Trafford for a world record fee of £93 million, an eye-watering amount of money, however, Fortune admits that the transfer figure does not matter as United saw a player of world-class ability re-join their squad. Pogba scored a glancing header against Leicester to open his United account, and Fortune believes that getting off the mark will help him settle back into life in Manchester:
“I would’ve done anything to get him back. We didn’t want him to leave in the first place. We all know, even before he left, what he was like. He’s got stronger at Juve, he’s a better player now for that experience. He scored a good goal so that will settle him down. Everyone will support him and they love him from before. He’s a very humble guy. You speak to everyone at the training ground and they say he’s an amazing kid who isn’t fazed by the hype. He gets on with the job.”
Fortune also believes that Pogba was trying too hard in his first few games, trying to pull off spectacular moments, whereas now he has focused on his own game and is now doing the things he did well at Juventus that earned him the move back to United.
“Like every human being he wanted to do everything at the beginning. That happens with the pressure, the price tag, but now he looks like he’s taking it in his stride, not trying to do stuff he hasn’t before. But to have a player like that in your team is fantastic. He’s coming from Italy where it’s more tactical. The Premier League is tough. Some players take a season to adapt; he’s having to adapt quickly because of the price tag. Some wouldn’t be able to deal with it. He was probably trying too hard the first few games – ‘I’m Pogba, I’m here and want to show you’ – but is showing what he can do now. There’s much more to come.”
Pogba has looked impressive since returning to Old Trafford in August and was recently handed his first Man of the Match award after the victory over Leicester. He seems to be settling into the squad now and developing a better understanding with his teammates, which will only lead him to having more and more Man of the Match awards which will, in turn, help him repay the world record fee that United invested in him.