It has not been plain sailing for Paul Pogba since the return of the new campaign, with fans lambasting his performances early on and expecting more.
Pogba suffered a very lengthy injury last season that caused him to only feature in 16 matches in the Premier League last season – with three of those coming from the bench.
Even post-lockdown and playing behind closed doors, the France international did not look at his best. Clearly worrying about long term effects of the ankle injury he sustained, Pogba rightly shielded himself and made sure he got through the rest of the campaign.
After suffering from the Coronavirus in the incredibly short off season, it is no wonder that he is slowly adapting back to Premier League life. Added to the fact that he has had no pre-season, Pogba is behind his peers in this regard.
Now 27 and in the prime years of his life, Manchester United are aiming to tie the Frenchman down to a longer term to see him spend this time at Old Trafford. His current deal expires in two years’ time, and the Red Devils do not want to run the risk of allowing him to leave on a free transfer should he not extend his contract.
There is no doubt what Pogba can bring to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, but the Norwegian manager needs to be able to rely on the Frenchman on a regular basis – something which has severely been lacking over the last 12 months.
Pogba can win games single-handedly at times, but it is the other side of his game in which Man United fans want to see more refined. When under pressure in the middle of the pitch, the central midfielder has been known to lose possession and allow the opposition to counterattack, usually resulting in a chance on goal.
Either through a fancy flick he’s trying to pull off or a lack of awareness, Pogba’s recklessness has, at times, cost Manchester United dearly.
In an ideal world, Solskjaer will have his midfielder partnered alongside Nemanja Matic, the stalwart of the team. The Serbian provides the Norwegian manager the necessary security in the middle of the park – a key component which has been lacking from Pogba.
Everyone can see that Pogba’s game is moving forward with the ball and trying to unlock defences – an attribute he has in abundance. But with added competition from the teams above and below them, Manchester United need the Frenchman to be the real deal and come through this season all guns blazing.
Pogba will need another few weeks to get back up to full match fitness, but when he does, it is crucial that he maintains his standards week in, week out and give Solskjaer exactly what he is looking for.