Since Paul Pogba arrived in the summer of 2016 for a then world record transfer fee of £89.3 million, he’s been the target of various criticism throughout his time at United for many things. He hasn’t just been targeted for his performances on the pitch, but also his sly agent Mino Raiola and weirdly his haircuts.
The British press never took a preference to Pogba and thus he’s had to fight to have a positive outlook of him represented in the media. Under Jose Mourinho, Pogba and Jose had a bust up and tensions grew and relationships worsened to the point where the main dilemma within the team was will Mourinho be out or will Mourinho get Pogba out.
‘Virus’ was a common term debated amongst many, as people discussed whether Pogba or Mourinho was the virus at Manchester United football club. As a result of Mourinho’s sacking in December of 2019, Pogba was the one to outstay Mourinho, but is Pogba being associated with a virus warranted? As a personality, Pogba is a happy, outgoing and positive character that lightens up the atmosphere in the dressing room.
As much to the likely dismay of Roy Keane, multiple videos have circulated around social media of Pogba in the changing rooms bright and smiling, dancing around with teammates like Eric Bailly and Jesse Lingard.
Some critics view this as inappropriate and thus when he doesn’t put his best performance out will use that to justify why Pogba should focus on his football more. Cohesion in any team sport is pivotal and through Pogba’s outgoing personality he connects some of the players as they embrace each other’s energy and bounce off it. This for atmosphere in the dressing room is only positive and despite some criticism is a good thing and should continue. Away from the changing rooms, Pogba has faced heavy criticism due to his frequency and originality of his haircuts.
In the modern game, footballers are no longer there just for the games and Pogba is the perfect example of this as he represents Adidas and will model for them. However, the off-field antic that is haircuts draws the greatest attention in the media, as Pogba often turns up to matches with different haircuts and if he underperforms, he is subject to a heap of criticism due to his performances not living up to his ever-changing haircuts.
Furthermore, during his time at United, Pogba has struggled with injuries putting him out of a total of 71 games. Therefore, when Pogba posts on his active social medias showcasing his new haircuts, fans would then get annoyed as they’d see more haircuts from Pogba then games played. Mino Raiola is Pogba’s next big reason as to why he receives an abundance of criticism.
Mino Raiola is a loud, ‘mouthy’ agent who isn’t respectful to clubs when he wants to move a client on. On multiple occasions, Raiola has spoken out to the media presenting the idea that Pogba wants to move away and that he’ll try get him out of the club.
In addition, often the timing of these statements came when United weren’t on their best of form or had big games ahead of them and so this all further increased the scrutiny on him as many felt any Raiola client was not one that they wanted at Manchester United football club and thus Pogba had to go.
Finally, conduct. Paul Pogba’s conduct despite wanting to leave has been exceptional and should not be overlooked as players like Harry Kane despite being ‘one of their own’ have dealt with their issues through poor misconduct. Whereas, Pogba, has always attended training and never put himself out of place, always regarding the club with such high respect.
Overall, in terms of personality I feel he is subject to too much abuse and people will look for any ways to hate on him and his personality due to performance issues especially if United are struggling. On performance it wouldn’t be outrageous to say Paul Pogba has underachieved at United. When he arrived, he came to win United the big trophies like the Champions League and the Premier League, but hasn’t done so.
Inconsistency is the key word to define his time at United, as some games he’d turn up and show his full potential like against Manchester City at the Etihad turning around a two-goal deficit to win it 3-2; But other games, he can go missing and be susceptible to being pressed and losing the ball in the midfield leaving the defence vulnerable to a counter attack.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likes Pogba a lot but doesn’t always fully trust him in the pivot and sticks to Scott McTominay and Fred to stabilise the midfield in return for a loss of creativity. Furthermore, another topic of discussion about Pogba’s performances have been effort.
For France, Pogba always puts in his all and will clearly do anything for France to win, be it running all over the pitch and making sure to track back; but for United he can look disinterested and just jog around the pitch and not track back leaving the fullback isolated when he plays off the left and the midfield weak when he’s in the pivot.
However, Pogba is a fantastic footballer and his ability is undoubted when he’s at his best. Many see the success of Manchester United as dependant on if Solskjaer can get the best out of him as when he plays at his best, he is unplayable. His long-range passing ability is out of this world and his ball progression can be very effective due to his slick dribbling for such a tall player and powerful running due to his strength and speed. He also has a knack for long range goals which can prove essential when playing teams using a low block as they are hard to break down and his ability to shoot from range can unlock this.
When he plays, Pogba massively effects the team as they look much better creatively because he lowers the burden on Bruno Fernandes to be the sole creator in the team as he provides that extra bit of passing prowess and vision to add to the attacking mix. But it can be argued that he’s defensively not that strong in that pivot and can give away too many penalties.
Overall, Pogba is not a virus to Manchester United football club and is in indeed the opposite as he brings positive energy with fantastic conduct and world class footballing ability. He would be a huge loss to United on and off the field as his impact in the changing rooms shouldn’t be discredited and his impact on the pitch for the team is incredibly high as he’s a fantastic footballer that will be very difficult to replace.
Written by Ethan Bents